Trial Date Set for Three Hikers Arrested in Iran

The only person to be released out of a trio of American hikers arrested in Iran in 2009 while accidently crossing the border between Iraq and Iran has been subpoenaed to return to Iran for a court hearing this May. Sarah Shourd, a UC Berkeley graduate, was released from a prison in Iran last September on humanitarian grounds with a $500,000 bail. Her mother had announced that Sarah had found a lump in her breast, instigating her release. Shourd’s fiancé Shane Bauer and their friend Josh Fattal are still being held in Evin Prison in Tehran and have been in almost total isolation for almost two years.

All three individuals are scheduled to be tried on charges of espionage on May 11, according to a statement released by their families. The statement also said that the men have been denied a private meeting with their Iranian lawyer. The subpoena was delivered to Shourd through Iran’s Foreign Ministry, but an Iranian lawyer said that he did not expect her to appear. The two men appeared in court in February to plead not guilty, but Shourd did not show for that event. She has maintained her innocence, as have Bauer and Fattal. All three uphold that they were hiking in northern Iraq and mistakenly crossed the unmarked border into Iran.

On Friday, April 29, Shourd’s mother Nora and various supporters of the accused held a performance at the UN Plaza in San Francisco. Titled “Dimensions of Detainment”, it highlighted the conditions of the two men and the “utter injustice of their detainment.” The case has drawn international support for the hikers, with Yusuf Islam (formerly the musician Cat Stevens) and Muhammad Ali calling for their release.

Many observers believe that Iran is holding the two Americans as hostages until they could trade them with the U.S for a significant achievement. Although the trio had probably mistakenly crossed the border, the Iranians are using the incident, and instead of charging them with unlawful entry to Iran which carries a light sentence or fine, it opted to accuse them of espionage which carries a death penalty, although there is no evidence supporting the claim of espionage.

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