Iran prosecutor confirms US hikers’ 8-year sentence

Tehran’s prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi on Sunday confirmed that Iran has sentenced two American hikers to eight years in prison each. “Shane Bauer and Josh

Fattal have been each sentenced to eight years in jail by the branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court,” Dolatabadi said.

On Saturday state television quoted an informed judiciary source as saying that the pair had been sentenced to eight years in prison for illegal entry and spying for a U.S. intelligence agency. “The case of Sarah Shourd who has been freed on bail is still open,” Jafari Dolatabadi added, referring to the other American who was arrested along with her fiance Bauer and Fattal on July 2009. Bauer and Fattal, both 29, were arrested along with Shourd, 32, on the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq on July 2009, with the trio claiming they were hiking in Iraq’s north when they innocently strayed into the Islamic republic.

The verdict is expected to further raise tension between Washington and Tehran at a time when the animosity between the two has deepened under the presidency of Ahmadinejad. U.S. has vehemently denied Tehran’s charge that the three were spies and has called on Iran to release them. “We have repeatedly called for the release of our citizens, who have now been held in Iran,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. The lawyer for the three Americans, Masoud Shafii, had repeatedly expressed hope for the release of his clients after Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Aug. 6 he hoped the trial would lead to their “freedom.” The lawyer said on Sunday he would appeal the eight-year sentence.

Compiled from AFP and Reuters by the Daily News staff.