Two University of California at Berkeley graduates are scheduled to stand trial in Iran on Sunday on charges of espionage and entering the country illegally.
Sunday also marks the second anniversary of the day that Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, as well as a third UC Berkeley graduate, 32-year-old Sarah Shourd, were arrested while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region near the Iran border.
Although Iran has accused them of espionage, the hikers and the hikers say they aren't spies but instead were detained after they accidentally crossed an unmarked border into Iran.
Iran released Shourd, who is engaged to Bauer, last September because she was in poor health. Shourd announced in May that she would not return to Iran for a trial because she is suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Shourd and the families of Bauer and Fattal led a rally outside the Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York today to demand that Bauer and Fattal be released.
Shourd, who was a teacher in Damascus, Syria, before she was arrested, said in a statement that she's hopeful Bauer and Fattal will be released soon.
She said, "I know in my heart that when Shane and Josh walk out of prison, they will hold no bitterness towards anyone. I hope that day is soon."
Shourd added, "I know their hearts will be filled with the same love and respect for the world that they had two years ago. If anything, they will have more."
According to a website that supports the hikers, Bauer and Fattal have appeared in court only once, on Feb. 6, when they testified that they are innocent.
Bauer, a freelance photojournalist, and Fattal, an environmental advocate, previously were scheduled to stand trial on May 11 but their trial was postponed.
According to the hikers' website, the last contact that Bauer and Fattal have had with their families was on May 22 in one of only three brief telephone calls home that they have been allowed to make since they were arrested.
In a recent interview, Shourd said her detainment was "horrible" and "the most difficult situation of my life."
She said, "You're never free and I feared for my life."
Shourd said it was difficult to leave Bauer and Fattal behind at the Evin Prison in Tehran and she is devoting her life to traveling around the world to raise awareness about their plight and trying to get them freed. Shourd also said it's hard to be separated from Bauer.
"Shane and I have been in love for almost six years but he's been in prison for nearly two of those years," Shourd said.