Iran Sets Trial Date for American Hikers; Clinton Calls for Their Release

Sec of State Clinton calls for their release, says no reason for trial.

Oct. 19, 2010— -- Two American hikers who have been detained in Iran for 445 days will stand trial on Nov. 6, the Swiss ambassador in Tehran told ABC News.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were detained in late July 2009 after crossing an unmarked border while hiking in northern Iraq with a friend, Sarah Shourd, who was released last month.

Asked about the trial date, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated her call for the pair's release.

"We continue to express our hope that the Iranian authorities will exercise the humanitarian option of releasing these two young men," Clinton said. "We do not believe there is any basis whatsoever for them to be put on trial, and we regret that they and their families are being subjected to the criminal system that we do not think in any way reflects their actions."

A senior State Department official told ABC News that the United States had been informed of the trial date by the Swiss, who represent American interests in Iran, who in turn learned of the move from the hikers' lawyer.

Shourd was released on Sept. 14 on $500,000 bail after concerns were raised about her health. An Omani delegation, which had toiled behind the scenes for months to win her release, traveled to Tehran to bring her back.

The U.S. State Department has confirmed since then that an Omani delegation has returned to Tehran to seek the release of Bauer and Fattal.

As of today, the two remaining hikers have been detained in Iran longer than the Americans held during the hostage crisis in 1979-1981, which lasted 444 days. In a statement, their mothers again called for their release.

"As long and heartbreaking as this ordeal has been, we never imagined that our sons' detention would reach this sad and painful milestone," Cindy Hickey and Laura Fattal said. "A generation after the U.S. hostage crisis, we pray that Iran and the U.S. will overcome the mistrust and antagonism of the past 31 years.

"Shane and Josh need to get on with their lives, as do our families. We pray that Shane and Josh will soon be in our arms and that the needless suffering their detention has brought upon so many people will end," they said.

In calling for the hikers' release today, Clinton noted that the United States has other matters it wished to discuss with Iran, suggesting the case had delayed other diplomatic efforts.

"There are many areas where we need to be discussing matters between the United States and Iran that are of great significance to not only our two countries but the world," she said, a likely reference to efforts to restart nuclear talks with Tehran.