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Iranian Envoy Says US Hikers May Be Freed Soon

Hassan Dannaie Fir, Iran's ambassador to Iraq, said he expects the two American hikers being held in Iran on espionage charges to be released 'very soon,' during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq, August 4, 2011

An Iranian ambassador said the U.S. hikers who have been detained in the country for two years on spying charges may be released "very soon."

In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Hassan Dannaie Fir, Iran's envoy to Iraq, said the "general atmosphere" is that Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal will be freed soon from prison.

In the interview, he indicated Ramadan could factor into their freedom, noting that pardons are traditionally handed down during the Muslim holy month.

Iran's state-run ISNA news agency also has quoted the hikers' attorney, Masoud Shafiei, as saying the men could be freed soon because of Ramadan.

On Sunday, Shafiei said he expected a court to announce a verdict in the case within a week. He commented after Iran held its final court hearing in the case.

Iranian authorities arrested Bauer, Fattal and a third hiker, Sarah Shourd, in 2009 on charges of illegally crossing into the country from Iraq. The trio has denied Iran's charges against them.

Last September, Iran released Shourd on bail for about half a million dollars and she returned to the United States.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.