Report: Iran Sentences U.S. Hikers Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal to 8 Years in Jail for Spying, Illegal Entry

VIDEO: Jim Sciutto on the miraculous recovery of a woman who fell into a whirlpool.
Share
Copy

Two American hikers detained in Iran for the past two years have been sentenced to 8 years in prison on charges of spying and illegal entry, according to Iranian state TV.

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer along with Sarah Shourd were arrested in July 2009. They were taken into custody after they crossed the border into Iranian territory.

They denied the Iranian charges of espionage and insisted they were only hiking, not spying, in a scenic area of northern Iraq and mistakenly crossed the Iranian border.

Shourd was forced to leave her two friends behind when she was released last September after being held captive for more than 400 days, but Bauer and Fattal remained in Iran's Evin Prison.

Shourd was released on humanitarian reasons so she could be treated for a lump in her breast.

Fattal and Bauer were each sentenced to five years for espionage and three years for illegally entering the country, according to Iranian state TV, The Associated Press reported.

U.S. State Department officials said they are looking to the reports of Fattal and Bauer's sentences.

"We are working to confirm these reports and are in contact with the Swiss Protecting Power to obtain more information," said Victoria Nuland, State Department spokeswoman.

"We have repeatedly called for the release of Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, who have now been held in Iran's Evin prison for two years," Nuland said. "Shane and Josh have been imprisoned too long, and it is time to reunite them with their families. As Secretary Clinton has said, 'We continue to express our hope that the Iranian authorities will exercise the humanitarian option of releasing these two young men.'"

Fattal and Bauer have already spent two years in jail. They are expected to have 20 days to appeal the sentence.

However, it's unclear whether they will actually serve that time.

Journalist Roxana Saberi was also sentenced to eight years before her sentence was reduced to two years suspended sentence and she was allowed to leave the country.

Fattal, Bauer and Shourd have been friends since their days at the University of California, Berkeley.

Last month, Shourd rallied with the Fattal and Bauer families outside the Iranian mission in New York City, hoping to convince the Iranian government to set them free.

"Shane and Josh are two innocent men, two compassionate, beautiful people," Shourd said. "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be standing here today."

Bauer had proposed to Shourd in jail, having woven together a ring that she showed off on "Good Morning America" last year.

"I'm still wearing it. It's just red and white, from string from his T-shirt," Shourd said at the time.

ABC News Radio's Linda Albin, David Kerley and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...