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Agence France-Presse

Iran Confirms Two Detained Americans to Face Trial

Farhad Pouladi

Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal wait before meeting their mothers in Tehran May 20, 2010. Shourd, held with Bauer and Fattal in Iran for more than a year on suspicion of spying, left the country on September 14th after she was released on bail. The three were detained near the Islamic Republic's border with Iraq in late July 2009. (Credit: Reuters/PRESS TV)

TEHRAN — Iran will begin prosecuting from November 6 three US hikers
on charges of espionage and for illegally entering the Islamic republic,
their lawyer Masoud Shafii told AFP on Wednesday.

Two of the
three hikers, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, have been held in a Tehran
jail for more than a year, while fellow American Sarah Shourd was
released on bail last month by the Iranian authorities.

"It is
true that on November 6 their trial will start at 10:00 am (0630 GMT),"
Shafii said, adding that judge Abolqasem Salavati would preside over the
court proceedings.

Salavati is known for trying people accused of
anti-Iran and anti-revolution activities, especially in the wake of
massive street protests that followed the disputed June 2009
presidential election.

He also presided over the trial of French
academic Clotilde Reiss who was arrested during that unrest and later
freed after paying a fine of 285,000 dollars.

Shafii said he had informed the families of the three hikers of the trial date.

three are accused of espionage and illegally entering the country," he
said, adding it was up to the family of Shourd, who returned to the
United States on her release, whether to allow her to attend the trial
or not.

"If she is not present, it will hurt her bail. I cannot
request that she be present. It is up to them to decide. I as a lawyer
have only informed them of the time of the trial and I will execute my
duty to defend the three," he said.

During Shourd's release,
Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabdi had warned that if she did not
appear for the trial her bail amount of around 500,000 dollars would be
"seized" and she would be prosecuted in absentia.

On Tuesday, US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton renewed appeals for the release of
the two men still detained in Iran and said she was aware that their
trial was on November 6.

"We continue to express our hope that the
Iranian authorities will exercise the humanitarian option of releasing
these two young men," she said.

"We do not believe that there is
any basis whatsoever for them to be put on trial and we regret that they
and their families are being subjected to a criminal system that we do
not think in any way reflects their actions.

"So it's our
continuing request to the Iranian government that, just as they released
the young woman, that they release these two young men," Clinton said,
adding "it's unfortunate" the pair had been held for more than a year.

authorities arrested the three hikers on July 31, 2009 after they
strayed into Iran from Iraq, and accused them of "spying and illegally
entering the country."

The three have rejected the charges,
insisting that they mistakenly entered Iran after getting lost during a
trek in Iraqi Kurdistan.

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