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Iran's Foreign Minister Expresses Hope for Jailed US Hikers

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)

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has expressed hope that two Americans imprisoned in Tehran on spying charges will be freed soon.

He says judicial authorities are pursuing Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer's case "based on a just approach." He says that approach will "hopefully proceed leading to the freedom" of the two men.

Salehi commented during a Saturday news conference, with Benin's foreign minister, Nassirou Bako-Arifari.

Iranian authorities detained Fattal, Bauer and a third hiker, Sarah Shourd, in 2009 on charges of illegally crossing into the country from Iraq. Tehran freed Shourd on bail last September.

On Sunday, Iranian state-run media quoted the hikers' attorney, Masoud Shafiei, as saying he expected a court to announce a verdict in the case within a week.

Shafiei also said the men could be freed soon because of Ramadan. Pardons are traditionally handed down during the Muslim holy month.

During Saturday's news conference, Salehi also said Iranian officials are "following up" on the cases involving Iranian nationals who are jailed in the U.S.

He mentioned Shahrzad Mir Gholikhan who was arrested in 2004 on charges of attempting to illegally export thousands of American night-vision systems for Iran's military.

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

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