TEHRAN, August 21 (Itar-Tass) — The prosecutor’s office of the Iranian capital confirmed on Sunday a guilty verdict on two US citizens. The local television reported on Saturday evening that Americans Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were sentenced to an eight-year prison term each for illegal infiltration into the territory of the Islamic Republic and for espionage.
“Each of the accused was sentenced to eight years behind bars by the 15th branch of the Islamic revolutionary court. The convicts have the right to file an appeal within 20 days. The case of the third defendant Sarah Shourd remains open,” said Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, speaking at a news conference on Sunday.
The three Americans – Shane Bauer, 29, Joshua Fattal, 29, and Sarah Shourd, 32, — were detained on July 31, 2009 for illegal penetration into the Iranian territory in the Marivan district, western province of Kurdistan, bordering Iraq. They had entry visas to Iraq and Syria, but no visa to Iran.
According to the American side, the young people were travelling around Iraq and turned to be in the Iranian territory by mistake. However, Iranian secret services believe that the penetration of the Americans into the country at the heat of protest actions by the opposition and mass street disorders in 2009 was far from accidental.
Initially, the opening of court hearings was scheduled for November 6, 2010, but was shifted on by three months over the absence of Shourd who had been freed on bail over problems with health and had gone home. The Iranian judicial authorities insisted on the presence at the trial of all the three accused, but the American woman naturally refused to return to Iran.
Bauer and Fattal were brought to the dock. They declared their innocence and disagreement with accusations against them at the first court meeting on February 6.