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Hikers Jailed In Iran Get Day In Court

TEHRAN, July 31 (UPI) — Two American hikers held in an Iranian prison for two years after straying across its border with Iraq have had a final court appearance, their attorney said.

The pair’s attorney, Masoud Shafiei, said he expects the Tehran Revolutionary Court to sentence the two hikers within a week, The Los Angeles Times reported.

The two spent four hours in court Sunday, and Shafiei said he hopes the two years Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer have spent in jail will satisfy Iranian authorities. Fattal, Bauer and Bauer’s fiancee, Sarah Shourd, crossed from Iraq into Iran while on a hike in 2009.

They are charged with espionage and trespassing. Shourd was released last year on a $500,000 bond after spending more than 400 days in solitary confinement.

“I believe that even if the court finds my clients guilty, the two years that they have already served in prison would be considered as their sentence and they would be released,” the group’s attorney, Masoud Shafiei, told CNN.

The hikers said they didn’t know they strayed across Iraq’s border into Iran.

“My clients should not be considered spies, because they lack the characteristics and backgrounds of spies,” Shafiei said.

Shafiei told Iran’s Fars News Agency he hopes the pair would be released based on “Islamic compassion,” with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starting Monday.

“The hearing officially finished, so according to law, the judge has to issue a verdict within a week,” Shafiei told the Los Angeles Times. “I do hope the verdict will be a two-year sentence, and that means immediate release.”

A rally calling for the pair’s freedom was conducted Friday in front of the Iranian Mission in New York.

“The judiciary in Iran says it will be the final hearing,” Laura Fattal, mother of Josh Fattal, said Friday. “We hope and pray that this is true.”

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