Babylon & Beyond

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IRAN: Detained American hikers to be tried on 2nd anniversary of their arrest

June 20, 2011 |  5:05 am

Iran-hikers2
Two American hikers taken into custody in 2009 on charges of espionage for crossing into Iran from Iraqi Kurdistan are to stand trial July 31, the second anniversary of their arrest, their lawyer said Monday. 

"I've just received an official notification that says the next trial will be on July 31 in the morning, which is exactly the anniversary of their arrest in the Iran-Iraq border two years ago," Masoud Shafii, the lawyer, told Babylon & Beyond.

Berkeley grads Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd were arrested by Iranian forces after allegedy crossing into  Iran during a hiking trip. Shourd was later released on $500,000 bail in September 2010, and continues to fight for Fattal and Bauer's freedom

The two are being held inside Iran's notorious Evin Prison, a massive compound in the foothills of Tehran's Alborz Mountain range that also houses some of the country's most renowned dissidents. The two men's detention has become a sore spot between the U.S. and Iran. Many observers have been stunned by the length of the detention, speculating they are being held as hostages to trade for Iranians held by the U.S. on charges of weapons smuggling. 

One prominent political dissident held in Evin said he ran into Fattal once as they were taking turns using the shower. 

"I whispered in English, 'Do not worry, you will be exchanged soon,'" said the dissident, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Josh got happy and we shook hands warmly. Now, I am out, and he is still in. I do hope both will be out."

Shafii said the Iranian judicial authorites did not demand that Shourd return to Iran to face trial as they have during previous hearings. "It gives me the hint and hope that the hikers might be released on that day," Shafii said. 

-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

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Photo: In this Sept. 19, 2010 file photo, Sarah Shourd, center, stands with Cindy Hickey, mother of Shane Bauer, left, and Laura Fattal, mother of Josh Fattal during a news conference in New York. Credit: Stephen Chernin/AP

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