U.S. Hikers' Espionage Trial Delayed in Iran

Third hiker Sarah Should is to be tried in absentia.

May 11, 2011 — -- The trial for the two U.S. hikers still being detained in Iran on charges of espionage was postponed today.

Masoud Shafiei, the lawyer in Tehran for Americans Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, said the two men had not been brought to the court from prison so the hearing could not convene. He also said he had not been allowed to see Bauer and Fattal since the trial's opening in February.

"My clients are in custody of judiciary officials but they were not brought into court," Shafiei told The Associated Press. "The trial date has been fixed a long time ago. There is no justification for the postponement."

The Swiss Embassy, which represents U.S. interests in Iran, was again not allowed to participate or appear in court, despite having requested it.

Third Hiker Sarah Shourd to Be Tried in Absentia

Bauer, Fattal and Sarah Shourd were arrested while hiking in July 2009 for allegedly crossing into Iran from Iraq. Shourd, Bauer's fiance, was freed from Iranian captivity in September after more than a year.

Her release, with a guarantee of $500,000 bail, was due in part to concerns over what her lawyer called her deteriorating medical condition. Currently in the U.S., Shourd is being tried in absentia after refusing to follow orders from Iranian officials that she return to Tehran for the trial.

The spying charges could bring a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

In September, Shourd called for the release of Bauer and Fattal.

"We committed no crime and we are not spies," she said, speaking publicly on U.S. soil for the first time. "We in no way intended any harm to the Iranian government or its people and believe a huge misunderstanding led to our detention and prolonged imprisonment."

In a statement in October, Fattal's and Bauer's mothers 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.

"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," their statement said.

Shourd said she was turning her attention to gaining her friends' freedom.

"My work is cut out for me and I need all the help I can get," she said. "I ask anyone that cares about Shane and Josh's freedom to stand behind us now."

In January, a public appeal signed by South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, actor Sean Penn and others called on the Iranian government to free the two remaining hikers: "Shane and Josh's freedom is overdue. ... Every day they remain unjustly imprisoned increases the risk of permanent psychological and emotional damage."

ABC News' Lee Ferran, Jim Sciutto, Jessica Hopper, Desiree Adib and Kirit Radia and The Associated Press contributed to this report.