Iran General NewsIranian court may delay trial of three Americans, lawyer...

Iranian court may delay trial of three Americans, lawyer says

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Bloomberg: An Iranian court trying three Americans charged with espionage and illegal entry into Iran may delay a hearing scheduled for May 11 because of the absence of one of the accused, their lawyer said.

Bloomberg

By Ladane Nasseri

An Iranian court trying three Americans charged with espionage and illegal entry into Iran may delay a hearing scheduled for May 11 because of the absence of one of the accused, their lawyer said.

Masoud Shafiei said the court in Tehran requested Sarah Shourd, who left Iran in September 2010 after being released on bail of $500,000, to be present at the hearing.

Her absence “may be used as a pretext for the session to be postponed,” Shafiei said today in a telephone interview from Tehran. Shourd, to whom he spoke to yesterday, may not be able to return to Tehran for the hearing “due to health reasons,” he said.

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were detained with Shourd in July 2009 for illegally crossing into Iran from Iraqi Kurdistan. The U.S. government has said the trio mistakenly wandered across the border during a hiking trip.

Shourd was summoned to return for the trial’s first hearing, which was held on Feb. 6. All three, including Shourd who was tried in absentia, entered pleas of not guilty, Shafiei said at the time.

Fattal and Bauer remain in custody, while Iran’s Judiciary has said Shourd was released because of “her illness.” Shourd suffered from depression and told her mother that she had discovered a lump in her breast, according to a report published one month prior to her release on freethehikers.org, a website set up to help gain the Americans’ freedom.

The continued detention of the two men has increased tension between Iran and the U.S., which accuses the Persian Gulf country of seeking to build atomic weapons under the cover of its nuclear program. Iran rejects the claim and says it needs the technology to secure energy for its growing population.

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