Last updated: 7 August, 2011

Iran hopes US hikers case will soon be closed

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said again on Sunday he hopes the case of two Americans held in Iran on espionage charges for two years will soon be closed, the ISNA news agency reported.

“I am in touch with the judiciary. God willing, it will decide justly and fairly, and I hope this case will soon be closed,” he said a day after he was quoted by Fars news agency as saying he hoped the US pair would be freed.

The trial of the Americans, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, who were detained two years ago on the border with Iran, ended on July 31.

The last hearing in the case was held behind closed doors without the presence of a third accused, Sarah Shourd, who is in the United States after being granted bail.

“We hope that the trial of these two (US) nationals will proceed in a manner that will result in their freedom,” Salehi said on Saturday, quoted by Fars.

His comments came nearly a week after Iran’s general prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni said a verdict in the case would be issued “soon.”

Bauer and Fattal, both 29, were arrested along with Shourd, 32, on the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq on July 31, 2009 with Tehran accusing them of “spying and illegally entering the country.”

They 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.