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Lawyer: Iran May Free US Hikers Soon


A picture released by Iran's state-run Press TV shows US hikers Shane Bauer (L) and Josh Fattal (R), detained in Iran on spying charges, during the first session of their trial, February 6, 2011 (file photo)

A picture released by Iran's state-run Press TV shows US hikers Shane Bauer (L) and Josh Fattal (R), detained in Iran on spying charges, during the first session of their trial, February 6, 2011 (file photo)

The lawyer for two Americans jailed in Iran on spying charges says a Sunday hearing in their case could be an indication that they will be freed soon.

Attorney Masoud Shafiei says the fact that the hearing coincides with the second anniversary of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal's arrest could indicate that Tehran intends to release them. He also suggested on Saturday that their two years in detention may serve as their sentence.

Iranian authorities arrested the two men and a third American, Sarah Shourd, in 2009 on charges that they had illegally crossed into Iran from Iraq. The three hikers have denied the charges.

Shourd was released last September on bail for about half a million dollars.

The state-run ISNA news agency also quotes Shafiei as saying his clients may be freed because their hearing coincides with the start of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. A Muslim tradition allows for prisoners to be pardoned at the start of Ramadan.

Shafiei says he has not been allowed to meet privately with his clients before what Tehran has called the "final" hearing in their case.

On Friday, family members and supporters in New York rallied outside of Iran's mission to the United Nations and again called for the hikers' release.

Also, Amnesty International urged Iran to free the men, saying they were apparently being held for "political reasons." In a Friday statement, an official with the rights group called for an end to what she described as a "parody of justice."

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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