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US Hikers Plead Not Guilty in Iran Spy Case


Masoud Shafii, the Iranian lawyer of three detained American hikers speaks with a Reuters correspondent at his office in Tehran, February 5, 2011.

Masoud Shafii, the Iranian lawyer of three detained American hikers speaks with a Reuters correspondent at his office in Tehran, February 5, 2011.

Three American hikers have pleaded not guilty in an Iranian court to charges of spying and illegally entering Iran in 2009.

Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd were arrested along the border of Iran and Iraq's northern Kurdish region, where they were hiking.

Bauer and Fattal are in Iranian custody, but Shourd is not. She was released on bail of $500,000 last September and allowed to return to the United States.

Iran's state-run Press TV reports Sunday that the lawyer for the three submitted pleas of not guilty to charges of illegal entry and espionage.

Sunday's trial session was held in a closed courtroom with a ban on observers, including Swiss Ambassador Livia Leu Agosti, who represents U.S. interests in Iran.

No date has been set for the trial to resume.

The Iranian lawyer for the three Americans, Masoud Shafii, said Saturday that he has not been given access to Fattal and Bauer to prepare for the trial. He said his clients are not at fault because the border was not marked in the region where they were detained.

The United States has called repeatedly for the release of the detainees. The defendants face up to three years in prison on the charge of illegal entry.

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