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Detained Hikers to Stand Trial in Iran

By Jeff Shuttleworth, BCN
Wednesday May 11, 2011 - 04:36:00 PM

Two University of California at Berkeley graduates who have been detained in Iran for more than 21 months will stand trial today on espionage charges, according to their families. 

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, both 28, along with Sarah Shourd, 32, were arrested on July 31, 2009, while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region near the Iran border. 

Shourd, who was released last September, and the families of Fattal and Bauer say the hikers were detained after they accidentally crossed an unmarked border into Iran. 

But Iran has accused them of espionage. 

Shourd, who also graduated from UC Berkeley, announced last week that she is suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by her imprisonment and won't return to Tehran for the trial with Bauer, who is her fianci, and Fattal. 

Shourd said in a statement that Bauer and Fattal "have to live every second of every day with the fear and uncertainty that comes from not knowing why they are being held, what is going to happen to them or how their families are coping." 

Shourd said, "We are not spies and Iran knows it. Shane and Josh should be free to resume their lives and I hope the court will release because they have done nothing wrong." 

Shourd's mother, Nora Shourd, who lives in Oakland, said in a recent email message that the espionage charges against the hikers are "baseless." 

She said Bauer and Fattal "have now spent more than 21 months in prison in Iran for no reason, virtually cut off from our families and with no access to their lawyer." 

Shourd said, "We are sick with worry about Shane and Josh and the damage their uncertainty and isolation is doing to their mental and physical health." 

She added, "This nightmare is also taking a terrible toll on our families. Many of us have fallen ill, or had to give up jobs, and faced other troubles because of what Iran is doing." 

The families of Bauer and Fattal said in a statement on Monday that, "Shane and Josh should not be standing trial but we trust they will be given the chance to reaffirm their innocence, as they did at a previous hearing on Feb. 6, and that the Iranian judiciary will recognize at long last that the only outcome is their immediate release." 

The families said, "The world will be watching and praying that the court will act in the spirit of justice and humanity that Shane and Josh so clearly deserve."