Iran prosecutor confirms jail term for US “hikers”


Tehran’s chief prosecutor confirmed on Sunday eight-year jail sentences for two Americans arrested more than two years ago on spying charges, the ISNA news agency reported.
Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told a news conference that Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal had 20 days to appeal the verdict, ISNA said, confirming news leaked to Iranian state TV on Saturday.
There was still no verdict on Sarah Shourd, who was arrested with the others on July 31, 2009 near Iran’s border with Iraq where they said they were hiking, Dolatabadi said.
Shourd, who got engaged to Bauer while jailed at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, was released on $500,000 bail in September 2010 and returned home to California.
The trio, in their late 20s and early 30s, say they were hiking in the mountains of northern Iraq and, if they crossed the unmarked border into Iran, it was by mistake.
Their trial took place behind closed doors and the evidence against them has not been made public.
The case is likely to further strain Iran’s already very poor relations with Washington which denies that the three Americans were spies.
The verdict was announced as Russia launches a fresh attempt to find a diplomatic solution to a standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program, which Washington says is aimed at making nuclear bombs, something Iran denies.
In a filmed interview posted on the website, Shourd said that after two initial months of interrogations her questioner told her their case was on hold as it was “political” and that she was caught in a “tug of war between two countries”.
Media had speculated that Bauer and Fattal could be freed as a goodwill gesture during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which began on Aug. 1 and ends this week.