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Middle east

Trial postponed for US hikers accused of spying

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-11

The trial of US nationals Josh Fattal (right) and Shane Bauer (left), held on spying charges since hiking into Iran in 2009, was postponed on Wednesday. A third hiker, Sarah Shourd (centre), was released on bail last September.

AFP - The trial of three American hikers charged with spying after being arrested on the Iran-Iraq border was postponed Wednesday because they were not brought from prison, their lawyer and other sources said.
              
A closed-door second session of the revolutionary court had been scheduled for Wednesday after the trial began on February 6 and lasted just a few hours.

"Their lawyer has told us that he has been informed (by the judiciary) that the session would be postponed since they were not transferred from prison," a Swiss diplomatic source said, adding that the lawyer had not been given further details.
              
The Swiss embassy represents US interests in Tehran since Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic relations for more than three decades.
              
"They did not bring Shane and Josh to the court (from prison) and I was not told why," the trio's lawyer Masoud Shafii told AFP.
              
"I waited in the court for two hours. The minutes of what happend was signed. The session will be postponed. I was not told about the time of the next session and I still was not able to see them," he added.
              
Shafii said: "It is certainly the fault of the judiciary since the prisons are under the judiciary.
              
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both aged 28, were arrested along with Sarah Shourd, 32, on the border between Iran and Iraq on July 31, 2009. They insist they lost their way while on a hiking trip.
              
Shourd is being tried in absentia after she returned to the United States after being freed on humanitarian and medical grounds in September and paying bail of around 500,000 dollars.
              

Spokesman for the Iranian judiciary, Gholam Hossei Mohseni Ejeie, told Tehran-based Al-Alam Arabic language television that, "The session will not be held today. It has postponed to another time," without any elaboration.
              
Shafii had earlier said he hoped the hearing would be the last and that a verdict would follow soon.
              
Ahead of Wednesday's planned session, the families of Fattal and Bauer issued a statement repeating that the two men were innocent and criticised the Iranian legal process.
              
"For more than 21 months, Shane and Josh have been locked up, isolated from their families and the world and denied any semblance of due process," they said in a joint statement.
              
"We call on the authorities to take this opportunity to end the mistreatment of two young men who have done no wrong to Iran and mean more to us than anything."
              
The detention of the three has added to the animosity between arch-foes Tehran and Washington, which have deteriorated over Iran's controversial nuclear drive and outspoken remarks by hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
              
Iran has accused the three hikers of "spying and illegally entering the country."
              
The trio have pleaded not guilty to the spying charges and maintain they innocently strayed into Iran across the unmarked border with Iraq.
              
Washington too has vehemently denied Tehran's charges and has pressed for their freedom.
              
Shourd, who also failed to attend the February 6 hearing, told AFP in Washington last week that she will not return to join the other two in the dock.
              
She had sent Iran's revolutionary court a five-page evaluation by a clinical forensic psychologist, who concluded she was at high risk of psychological problems if she returned to face espionage charges.
              
Swiss embassy officials in Tehran, have met the detained hikers five times in the 21 months of their detention, including once when the mothers of the three visited the hikers in Iran last May.

 

Date created : 2011-05-11

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