Trial Starts For Detained American Hikers In Iran
Americans Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the hikers accused of spying in Iran, appeared in a closed-door Iranian court session yesterday to begin trial. The two have been detained for 18 months already. A third hiker, Sarah Shourd was released in September on $500,000 bail arranged through the Gulf nation of Oman, which maintains close ties to the West and Iran. She was ordered back to Tehran for the trial by Iranian officials, but it appears her bail will likely be forfeited because of her absence.
All three of the hikers — two in person and one in absentia — entered not guilty pleas during the five-hour hearing yesterday according to their lawyer. He added that he was barred by Iranian law from giving any further details of the proceedings. The lawyer described the jailed Americans, Bauer and Fattal, as appearing in good health and said they sat next to him during the trial session.
The Americans were detained in July 2009 along the Iraqi border. They claim they were hiking in Iraq’s Kurdistan region and that if they crossed into Iran it was inadvertent.