MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Two Americans who have been held in Iran for nearly two years on espionage charges were denied their day in court Wednesday when Iranian authorities delayed their trial without explanation, prolonging the agonizing uncertainty for families who have been lobbying for their release.

Masoud Shafiei, the Iranian attorney for 28-year-olds Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, told The Associated Press that the two were not brought into court Wednesday for the resumption of their trial, as had been planned. He said Iranian officials gave no immediate explanation.

Bauer’s fiancDee Sarah Shourd, who was arrested with the two men in July 2009 along the Iraq-Iran border and allowed to return to the U.S. last year on bail, said she and the men’s families are worried about their health and what the delay might mean.

“Things like this trial date (are) a huge buildup and we’re devastated,” Shourd, 32, told the AP by phone from California. “If it has that impact on us, it has to be a thousand times worse for Shane and Josh. One of the most painful things is just not being able to comfort Shane and Josh right now. None of us have any way to comfort them.”

No one aside from their captors has seen Bauer or Fattal since their trial started Feb. 6. The trial was scheduled to resume Wednesday, and family members were eager for even the slightest glimpse at how the two might be faring.

Reached by phone at her home in Pine City, Minn., Bauer’s mother, Cindy Hickey, used the word “devastation” to describe how she felt. “We were thirsting for a resolution.”

Fattal’s mother, Laura Fattal, told the AP she got the news in a late-night call from the State Department. She said the families are becoming increasingly concerned.

“We need independent eyes (on them) and those independent eyes I want are my eyes,” Laura Fattal said. “I want to see them home.”

Fattal’s brother, Alex Fattal, said relatives were “extraordinarily worried” about the men’s health. “We know they’ve been on hunger strike in the past to get the most basic of human rights. … We worry if they’re alive. We try to block that out but we have very serious concerns about their health and their emotional well-being through all this.”

Shafiei said he, too, was worried about his clients’ health and the court’s failure to hold the proceedings Wednesday.

“My clients are in custody of judiciary officials but they were not brought into court,” he told the AP. “The trial date had been fixed a long time ago. There is no justification for the postponement.”

Shourd and Bauer, who got engaged after their arrest, had been living together in Damascus, Syria, where Bauer was a freelance journalist and Shourd was an English teacher. Fattal, an environmental activist, went to visit them shortly before their trip to Iraq. Bauer is a native of Onamia, Minn., Shourd is from Oakland, Calif., and Fattal grew up in suburban Philadelphia. The three are graduates of the University of California at Berkeley, where they became friends.

The three say they were hiking in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region and any crossing into Iran was inadvertent. They deny the espionage allegations.

Initially, Tehran accused the three Americans only of illegally crossing into Iran but later added espionage charges. Authorities have given few details to support the accusations.

Tehran’s chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, has claimed, without elaborating, that the Americans had “equipment and documents and received training.”

Shourd was ordered back to Tehran for the trial by Iranian officials but declined to return.

The spying charges could bring a maximum sentence of 10 years.

The U.S. government has denied the charges against them and demanded their release. Their lengthy detention has added to tensions between the two nations over issues like Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philo Dibble, the Obama administration’s top diplomat on Iranian issues, expressed concern Wednesday at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee subcommittee hearing on human rights in Iran.

“We urge the Iranian government to promptly release Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal so that they may return to their families. … We note that this morning the trial that was scheduled to resume today did not resume. We’re not quite sure what that means but we hope it is a positive omen.”

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters later Wednesday that the department had not yet heard from Swiss diplomats who represent U.S. interests in Iran about why the trial did not resume.

“We are hopeful that the Iranian government will recognize the fact that these individuals have been held now for nearly two years, they have not been charged formally, and that they should be released on humanitarian grounds, and that we’re hopeful that that message has gotten through,” Toner said.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (43)
  1. red says:

    Those f–n Iraninan’s need to free these poor men. What the heck did they do?

    1. Tony says:


      1. Rhys says:

        SHAME ON YOU. These are innocent men who did nothing wrong. They are peaceful, compassionate people who want to make the world a better place. They didn’t even know they crossed the border, and in fact, they may not have even crossed.

        How would you like to be on vacation, hiking and enjoying yourself, and get snatched up by someone bad and get imprisoned? And please, don’t say that it’s their fault for being in IK, IK is actually a very safe place, and getting snatched up is something that can happen to anyone, anywhere.

        Please think about what you are saying.

        1. just8 says:

          Well stated Rhys

          1. Randy says:

            They should be left to rot in prision. And she should be forced to go back to stand trial. She faked an illness. They are stupid. And all looking for a book and movie deal. Which only people like you Rhy will buy and watch.

            1. JJ says:

              I pray that something like this never happens to a member of your family. Again, the only two people that know if she truly is sick are her and her doctor. I think a few of you could use some more faith and compassion in your lives.

              1. Idana says:

                I was really confused, and this answered all my qeusitnos.

        2. Stone them! says:

          Oh ya that sounds smart hey lets go on a vacation to a place that kills Americans! Ya thats smart!

        3. Mark from mntaxwaste.com says:

          LMAO on your comments. Who in their right mind would take a vacation in Iraq or Iran? It’s about as safe as going to the DMZ in South Korea. These clowns should be locked up!!

          1. Rhys says:

            Iraqi Kurdistan is not the same thing as the country of Iraq. They are two very different places. Do your research.

  2. marie says:

    Yep, and why didn’t they getto court?? makes you really wonder not like they just didn’t want to show up on their own. God help this men and their families who are waiting for them.

    1. Tony says:

      No court hearing til that on the lamb woman gets her ass back there to face the music with her so called fiance and his friend.They should stay locked up forever or until she appears. What a freind she is to abandon her so called freinds..And when she gets back there they lock her up and release the guys.

  3. HDMC says:

    they will probably be detained and we’ll see many more court delays untill “princess” sarah returns to face trial, im just gonna guess, they probably beat the dalights outta the two and they couldnt face court.
    stupid hippie activists.

  4. Bob says:

    Sick of hearing about them. Maybe they have went hiking in Yellowstone. No sorrow from me.

  5. Anonymous Coward says:

    Already took a couple years of their lives for being close to the border of virtually unoccupied part of their country. I think a fair trade would be to take their President and Komenei and lock them up for 2+ years in Guantanmo as retribution.

  6. Johnny Rain Cloud says:

    I would never go hiking in a foreign country. Yes, they may not have know where they were hiking but honestly the last place I am going on a hiking trip is to Iraq/Iran border.

  7. Mr Rite says:

    Why these morons went to iraq or iran for hiking…let them rot in iran..they deserve this..they could hv had there threesome in US.

  8. Three peas in a pod says:

    Either they were, in fact, doing something illegal – or – they acted with incredible stupidity and irresponsibility.

    I have no sympathy for them and, as for “Princess” Shourd, she should be right there with them but she feigned serious illness and skipped town. I wonder who was dumb enough to put up the $500K in bail that will be forfeited; I hope not the US taxpayers.

    I do, however, have sympathy for the families, especially the parents. For their sake I hope Iran will release the remaining two idiots.

    1. Jollyrancher1974 says:

      I soooo agree with you! No sympathy for these 3 punks. What the h*ll were they doing “hiking” right on the border of a barbaric, lawless, primitive “nation” ? ? I’m ticked off that my tax $ $ was used to free the moronic girl.

      1. Rhys says:

        Wow. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Iraqi Kurdistan is a peaceful, beautiful region, and is not barbaric or lawless or primitive. Saying those things is not only ignorant but is quite untrue. I have friends that live in IK and work there, too. It is none of the things you said.

        Also, your tax money was not used to free Sarah Shourd, and I’m not sure where you got that idea, but it is also not true.

        The ignorance about this situation is just appalling.

        1. LOCK THEM UP FOREVER!!!!! says:

          @Rhys just because you have a buddy their means nothing just stupid talk the area is full of American hating imbreaders! They were stupid for going over in that area!

          1. Rhys says:

            A buddy their? That doesn’t even make sense. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

  9. Sam says:

    Keep these tree hugger locked up, last thing we need is these morons back in the U.S.

  10. John Takami says:

    wow some harsh comments, I am hoping they will be freed soon. doesn’t help that there presidents and clerics do not see eye to eye on things…..

  11. Shame on Sarah Shourd! says:

    I agree – all three were idiots who openly protested their own country, yet now expect the US to help them out.

    However, they have suffered enough (just their initial arrest was too much, nearly two years is horrific), and the agony their families are going through is heartbreaking. Please, Iran, send them home.

    And a note to Sarah Shourd – way to go, abandoning your fiance and your friend. You exaggerated an illness and got bail on humanitarian grounds for medical treatment. Bail, not freedom. Bail meant you had to come back. So now the courts may be holding Josh and Shane unnecessarily because you failed to honor the conditions of your bail. Shame on you. Your alleged PTSD isn’t a fraction of what Josh and Shane have. So stop being a hypocrite and go back to prove your innocence.

    1. Keith says:

      Americans are allowed and EXPECTED to protest the actions of their own government. That’s how our system is designed. It doesn’t mean they forfeit the protections offered to them as citizens.

  12. Rhys says:

    I don’t understand all the ignorant comments. Iraqi Kurdistan is a peaceful, amazingly beautiful region. It is not unsafe and it is not barbaric, as others have said. I have friends that live and work there, and are raising their children there. They are good friends with the people of IK, and are doing amazing work there. Saying that IK is unsafe or barbaric or a horrible place is ignorant and untrue.

    These statements are completely without basis and those of you who are saying these things are sadly misinformed (or uninformed, as the case may be).

    Shame on you all for wishing bad things on another human being, especially ones that are good people and want to help the world and make a difference. These people are HUMAN BEINGS. They could be your brothers, your sisters, your cousins… and whether or not you agree with the fact that they were vacationing and hiking in a beautiful region doesn’t matter. They are humans and they deserve to come home and be with their families. You’d want the same if it was YOUR family.

    If you’re so sick of hearing about this, then stop reading and posting on articles about it. Problem solved. No one is forcing you to stay apprised of the situation. No one is forcing you to read news articles about it… that’s your choice.

    Just please… please stop saying hateful things about these people who just wanted to live their lives and make a difference in the world.

    1. Mark from mntaxwaste.com says:

      You don’t understand because you think that Americans should be able to have the same rights around the world as they do here. You need to understand that there are people in this world that hate America and Americans. You are a fool

  13. JJ says:

    Shame on most of you commenters! They were hiking in a peaceful place; you are what is wrong with America these days. You jump to conclusions without knowing the whole truth. Have you been to IK or even heard of it until today? It is a beautiful place and it a tourist area, there is no reason to be arrested there, unless you actually were to do something wrong which they did not. Have you personally met Sarah? I doubt it and neither have I, however, if her doctor says she shouldn’t go back, then she shouldn’t. Everything affects people in different ways. What it comes down to is that they need to be set free; they deserve their freedom back. Please Iran make this a speedy finish.

  14. If you live in a glass house ... says:

    Has the cheese slipped off your cracker Rhys? Only one person has implied that this particular region may be barbaric. I don’t know if you have access to classified state department information but all I’ve seen are news reports that said the three were hiking on the Iraq/Iran border – no specific latitude and longitude coordinates were given.

    And it matters not. The fact that they were even near either of those countries demonstrates a clear lack of good judgment.

    Why do you say people are wishing bad things on another human being? It seems to me people are being critical of their poor judgment and of one of them pretty much saving her own butt at the possible expense of the other two. Perhaps some of these people aren’t praying for good things for the hikers but I don’t see anyone hoping for bad things to happen to them … at worst there is apathy concerning their release.

    Finally, if you can’t tell us the correct source of the bail money, then neither can you deny that it may have been US taxpayer money. All people are saying is they hope it wasn’t a waste of US taxpayer money.

    Calm down, don’t get your grundies in a bunch.

    1. Rhys says:

      You don’t think that others saying that they should remain locked up in an Iranian prison is wishing bad things on them? That would seem like a bad thing to me.

  15. If you live in a glass house ... part II says:

    You’re not fooling anyone Rhys … JJ is simply your alter ego. It’s okay for you to post more than once. No need to hide.

    1. Rhys says:

      Uhm, sorry, but I do not know who JJ is, I just happen to agree with him/her. You know, there is more than ONE person that shares my opinion.

      1. Mark from mntaxwaste.com says:

        The 60’s called, they want you back

        1. Steve says:

          @Mark – the 8th grade called, it wants you back.

  16. JJ says:

    “If you live in a glass house” an alter ego implies someone that acts and thinks differently from them self (for example Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). Rhys and I happen to agree with each other, so I am sorry, but we are not the same person. This would be more along the lines of a kindred spirit. Rhys is right there are many who share our opinions.

    I also think you need to do a little more research, I emphasize the word research, into these events, you might find yourself surprised. Either way I think you need to find some more compassion in your life. I would presume that you have never had a loved one in jail. Many of them can’t talk about it at all.

    I won’t wish something bad on someone, because they were hiking and not hurting anyone. I cannot wish that good people or a good person “rot in iran” or anywhere for that matter.

  17. Kurt says:

    Here in Minnesota everyone knows Shane Bauer is a spy. The Princess Lady bail jumper also.

  18. Jim says:

    Waterboard them. They will confess

    1. Mark from mntaxwaste.com says:


  19. Kurt says:

    Its time to get Dog the Bounty Hunter after Sarah Shourd

  20. Honney says:

    And I was just wodneirng about that too!

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