Iran has sentenced two Americans, arrested more than two years ago while hiking along the Iraq-Iran border, to eight years in prison for illegal entry and spying.
Iranian TV on Saturday quoted judicial sources as saying that Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal each were given five-year prison sentences for spying and three additional years for illegal entry into the country. The TV report did not indicate whether they would or could be given credit for the time they have already spent in jail.
Bauer and Fattal were arrested on July 31, 2009, along with a third American, Sarah Shourd, who was freed on $500,000 bail last year and returned to the United States. The trio has always proclaimed their innocence and said they were hiking in the mountains of northern Iraq while on vacation. They said that if they crossed the unmarked border into Iran, it was by mistake.
The United States, which does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, has repeatedly called for the hikers' immediate release from Tehran's notorious Evin prison. The U.S. State Department said it was trying to confirm the verdict through Swiss diplomats in Tehran, who represent U.S. interests there.
The Iranian lawyer representing the hikers, Masoud Shafiei, said authorities in Tehran did not notify him of any decision in the case since court sessions ended on July 31. Bauer and Fattal have 20 days to appeal the sentence.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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