Iran denies report on hikers' release

Sept. 14, 2011 at 7:13 AM
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TEHRAN, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Iran's judiciary rejected reports U.S. hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, imprisoned for spying, would be released soon.

The judiciary's information department said Wednesday a judge still was reviewing a request by the two hikers' lawyer to release his clients on bail, Iran's state-run Press TV reported.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told several U.S. media outlets Tuesday Bauer and Fattal, sentenced to eight years for spying and entering the country illegally, would be released "within two days" as a humanitarian gesture. Other reports said the two, in jail for two years, would be released once they each posted $500,000 bail.

An announcement said information about the case would be released by the judiciary and other reports weren't considered reliable, Press TV said.

A judicial official was quoted as saying: "The two Americans are going to stay in prison for a bit longer. Reports of their imminent release are wrong," The New York Times reported.

The semi-official Fars news agency quoted a judiciary statement that read, "Only the judiciary is authorized to reveal information on this case."

Bauer, Fattal and Sarah Shourd were arrested in July 2009 and accused of spying for the United States. The three maintained they were hiking in Iraq and inadvertently crossed the unmarked border. The three were charged with espionage and entering the country illegally and jailed in Tehran's Evin prison. Iran released Shourd on $500,000 bail in September 2010 on humanitarian grounds because of a health condition.

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