Last updated: 15 August, 2011

Iran to issue verdict on US hikers soon

Iran’s prosecutor general said on Monday that the verdict in the case of three Americans arrested two years ago on espionage charges would be issued “soon,” Mehr news agency reported.

“The final verdict will be issued soon,” Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie said.

When asked whether there was a possibility of pardoning the three during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, which ends late August, he said he had “not heard such a rumour.”

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, were arrested along with Sarah Shourd, 32, on the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq on July 31, 2009.

Tehran accused them of “spying and illegally entering the country.”

On August 7, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had said he hoped the case would “soon be closed.”

The trial of the Americans ended on July 31, with Ejeie saying a verdict in the case would follow “soon.”

The last hearing in the case was held behind closed doors without the presence of Shourd, who is in the United States after being granted bail on health grounds in September 2010.

The three have pleaded not guilty to spying charges, saying they were hiking in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq when they innocently walked into Iran across an unmarked border.

Washington has vehemently denied Tehran’s charge that the three are spies and has pressed for their release.