Iran sentences 2 American hikers to 8 years

Two American men already held for two years in Tehran have been sentenced to 8 years each in prison on charges of espionage and illegal entry into Iran, state TV reported Saturday.

Iran hikers

The announcement appeared to dash hopes for the imminent release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal after Iran's foreign minister suggested earlier this month that the trial could clear the way for their freedom.

A third American who was taken with them, Sarah Shourd, was released in September 2010 on $500,000 bail and returned to the United States.

Shourd's case "is still open," the website reported.

Bauer and Fattal, who are both 28, have been sentenced to three years each for illegal entry into Iran and five years each for spying for the United States, the website quoted "informed sources" at Iran's judiciary as saying. Phone and email messages left for Sarah Shourd; Shane Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey; and the families' media representative, Samantha Topping, were not immediately returned.
Iran has sentenced two American hikers to eight years in prison for illegal entry and spying for a US intelligence agency, state television said on Saturday quoting an informed judiciary source.
"Shane Bauer ... and ... Josh Fattal, the two detained American citizens, have been each sentenced to three years in prison for illegal entry to the Islamic Republic of Iran," the television reported on its website.
Washington has vehemently denied Tehran's charge that the three were spies and has called on the Islamic republic to release Bauer and Fattal.
"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," she added.
According to the state television website, the two men have 20 days to appeal against the verdict.
Bauer and Fattal, both 29, were arrested along with Shourd, 32, on the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq on July 31, 2009, with the trio claiming they were hiking in Iraq's northern province of Kurdistan when they innocently strayed into the Islamic republic.
Shafii had repeatedly expressed hope for the release of his clients after Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on August 6 he hoped the trial of Bauer and Fattal would lead to their "freedom."
The Saturday report comes after Iran's Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie said Monday that the verdict of the trial would be issued "soon."
The United States on Saturday could not confirm reports about the sentences to two American hikers under detention in Iran getting eight years in prison but reiterated humanitarian appeal to Tehran to free them.
In a statement released on Saturday, Victoria Nuland, U.S. State Department Spokesperson said, “We have seen reports that Iranian judicial authorities have sentenced Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal to 8 years in prison. Both the hikers along with Sarah Shourd were arrested on July 31, 2009 while hiking on the border region of Iraqi-Kurdish region and allegedly crossed into Iran illegally.