Iran postpones trial of 2 American hikers

By Thomas Erdbrink
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, November 1, 2010; 12:13 PM

TEHRAN - Iranian authorities have postponed the trial of two American hikers accused of spying and illegally entering the Islamic Republic because a third hiker released on bail has not been summoned to court, a judiciary spokesman said on Monday.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, who remain in a Tehran prison after a third American, Sarah Shourd, was released in September on $500,000 bail. They were scheduled to appear before a judge on Saturday. No new date has been set.

The delay could mean that Iran will demand that Shourd return from the United States to face trial as well.

"It is better that the accused released on bail would return to Iran because all three had committed a joint crime and should be tried together," judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, who also acts as National Prosecutor General, told Iranian state media. "Now whether Ms. Shourd comes back or not is another question," he added.

The three American, arrested in July 2009, say they were hiking in northern Iraq and were not aware they had crossed into Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is said to have requested Shourd's release in September, only to have been snubbed by Iran's judiciary. It did ultimately release her, but only weeks after the government's request.


WATCH VIDEO: Freed hiker says arrest 'a huge misunderstanding'

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