TEHRAN, May 9 (UPI) -- The families of two U.S. hikers scheduled to stand trial this week on espionage charges in Iran called on Iranian officials Monday to free them.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, jailed in Tehran's Evin prison since 2009, are scheduled to answer charges of illegal entry into Iran and espionage Wednesday, CNN reported. The two charges carry the death penalty.
The case has been delayed twice because a third American defendant, Sara Shourd, hasn't appeared in court to face similar charges.
"For more than 21 months, Shane and Josh have been locked up, isolated from their families and the world and denied any semblance of due process," the families of Bauer and Fattal said in a statement. "The charges they face are as cynical, unjust and unreasonable as (is) the length of their incarceration and it is time for Iranian judicial authorities to stop playing games with their lives."
Bauer, Fattal and Shourd, who is engaged to Bauer, were on a hiking trip in Iraq's Kurdistan region when they were detained by Iranian border troops July 31, 2009, for allegedly crossing into Iran illegally. They have pleaded not guilty. In September, Shourd was released on $500,000 bail because of a medical condition, and has said she would not return to Tehran, citing depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Freethehikers.org, a Web site dedicated to freeing Bauer and Fattal, said the two men share a 10-by-14-foot cell and have not spoken to their families since November or had access to their Iranian lawyer.