Sunday, February 6, 2011

Iran Puts Three Americans on Trial

An Iranian revolutionary court put three Americans on trial today on charges of “spying and illegally entering the country.” The Americans, Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd, say they were on a hiking trip in the Iraqi Kurdistan and were arrested on the unmarked border between the two countries by the Iranian authorities on 31 July 2009.

The trial is being held behind closed doors and the Swiss Ambassador to Tehran Livia Leu Agosti who represents US interests in Iran was barred from attending the proceedings.

"I was not invited to the court and it was my decision to come. So far the authorities have not allowed me in," Agosti told the Iranian news agency IRNA [6 February 2011].

Bauer and Fattal are in custody in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Shourd is in the US on bail since last September. The Swiss ambassador confirmed today that Shourd was not attending the trial.

Yesterday, their Iranian lawyer, Masoud Shafii, denied the charges against them and said he had been denied access to Bauer and Fattal to work on their defense.

"I should have met with Shane and Josh to prepare the defense, but I was not allowed," Shafii said. "I have studied the case in full detail. The question of spying is irrelevant. There is just the question of illegal entry, which even if it has happened has been inadvertent as the border was unmarked," Shafii added [AFP, 5 February].

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