Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal arrested more than two years ago while hiking along the Iraq-Iran border have been sentenced to eight years in prison for espionage and illegally entering Iran [IRIB, 20 August].
Earlier this month, Iran’s foreign minister had suggested that the two Americans would be sentenced to time served and would be freed during the holy month of Ramadan, cruelly raising hopes of their parents and friends and relatives in the US.
Bauer and Fattal deny the charges and say they were only hiking in a scenic and largely peaceful Kurdish region of Iraq, then mistakenly crossed into Iran when they stepped off a dirt road near a waterfall. They were detained in July 2009 along with a third American, Sarah Shourd, who was released in September 2010 on $500,000 bail and returned home.
The Iranian attorney of the two Americans, Masoud Shafiei, said he has not been notified of the verdict but he will definitely appeal the sentence if true.
“I've not been notified of any verdict in the case of my clients,” Shafiei told The Associated Press. "This is a strong verdict inconsistent with the charges."
The US said today it was trying to confirm an Iranian TV report that two were jailed for eight years and reiterated its call for their release.
“We have repeatedly called for the release of Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, who have now been held in Iran's Evin prison for two years. Shane and Josh have been imprisoned too long, and it is time to reunite them with their families,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.