We’ve written before about the plight of the three US citizens detained by Iranian officials after crossing the unmarked border between Iraq and Iran in 2009.
Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd said they were hiking in the mountains of Iraq’s northern province of Kurdistan, and strayed over the border without realizing. Iran claimed they were American spies.
Sarah was released last September on medical grounds, after paying bail of around $500,000. But al-Jazeera now reports that Iran’s state TV website said on Saturday that Shane and Josh have been sentenced to eight years in prison: “three years…for illegal entry to the Islamic Republic of Iran”, and “five years…on charges of espionage for the American intelligence agency”. Sarah’s case is apparently still “open”.
Information is still really sketchy. The state TV website cites “an informed source within the judiciary”. The hikers’ lawyer has said he hasn’t been informed of any decision since the trial ended a few weeks back. And according to Free the Hikers, the Iranian Ambassador to Iraq and the Iranian Foreign Minister anticipate a release “very soon”.
Here’s hoping this ‘leaked announcement’ is some sick form of politics or propaganda, and they are released as soon as possible.