Trial for Hikers Detained in Iran Set for February

The trio will now stand trial on Feb. 6, 2011, according to their attorney.

Nov. 21, 2010— -- The two American hikers who have been detained in Iran for 478 days, along with the recently released detainee, will now stand trial in Iran on Feb. 6, 2011, according to their attorney.

Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd's trial was originally slated for Nov. 6 of this year, but authorities said it was delayed because Shourd, who was arrested with them and later freed on bail and returned to the United States due to health concerns, had not been summoned to return to the country to appear in court.

Masoud Shafiei, the attorney for Bauer and Fattal, told The Associated Press he received an official notification today of the new trial date.

Shafiei said the judge in the case has refused to allow him to meet with Bauer and Fattal -- both 28 -- to prepare for the trial.

"He replied, 'You will meet them on the day of the trial,'" Shafiei told the AP. "I need to meet them to prepare my defense letter."

Bauer, Fattal and Shourd were detained in late July 2009 after crossing an unmarked border while hiking in northern Iraq. Shourd has said they were hiking in a scenic and relatively peaceful part of northern Iraq, and inadvertently crossed an unmarked border with Iran when they were arrested.

Shourd, who is Bauer's fiancée, was released Sept. 14 on $500,000 bail as a humanitarian gesture and because of unspecified health concerns -- though the woman has since said her health is fine.

An Omani delegation, which had worked 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.

Iran has warned that it will seize the $500,000 bail posted by Shourd if she does not return for trial.

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

Trial Date Set for American Hikers Held in Iran

"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.

The three Americans are graduates of the University of California at Berkeley. Shourd and Bauer had been living together in Damascus, Syria, where Bauer was working as a freelance journalist and Shourd as an English teacher. Fattal, an environmental activist, went to visit them in July 2009.

Asked about the trial date last month, 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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.