TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The lawyer for two Americans jailed in Iran on charges of espionage said Sunday the court will announce its verdict within a week, dashing hopes for their immediate release after a final hearing in the case.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, have been held in Iran’s Evin Prison since shortly after their arrest along the border with Iraq exactly two years ago on Sunday. The case has added to tensions between the United States and Iran that were already high over issues like Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.

The Americans’ lawyer, Masoud Shafiei, had hoped that Sunday’s final court session would result in their immediate release because it coincided with the two-year anniversary of their arrest and came near the start this week of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, when pardons are traditionally handed down.

Shafiei said he and the two Americans presented closing arguments in their defense and the court announced the end of its hearings.

“The judge said the court will announce its verdict about my clients within one week,” Shafiei told The Associated Press.

He said he was still hopeful that, if found guilty, they would be sentenced to time already served and released.

Bauer’s fiancDee, Sarah Shourd, was arrested with them on July 31, 2009, but was released in September of last year on $500,000 bail. She did not return to Iran for the rest of the trial, but Shafiei said he delivered a defense for her as well on Sunday.

The Americans deny the charges and say they were only hiking in a scenic and largely peaceful area of northern Iraq near the Iranian border. While other parts of Iraq remain troubled by violence, the semiautonomous Kurdistan region has drawn tourists in recent years, including foreign visitors, to its scenic mountains.

“We are pleased that today’s hearing was the final session in the case and now hope for an outcome that will bring freedom for Shane and Josh,” the hikers’ families said in a prepared statement. “We pray that the Iranian authorities will show compassion to Shane and Josh and we ask everyone who supports them and cares for them to join us in beseeching the grace of God at this important time.”

The families said they would have no additional comment.

In a telephone interview on Saturday, Shafiei had expressed hope that Bauer and Fattal could be swiftly freed. One positive sign, he said, was that Shourd had not been summoned to appear for the final session as she had been for a previous hearing.

Shafiei suggested the court could convict the two but then sentence them to time served.

“They’ve spent two years of their life in jail in Iran, which will serve as their sentence,” he said on Saturday.

Shafiei insisted the authorities have no evidence to prove espionage, and he pointed out the area where they were detained has a porous border.

“The espionage charge is irrelevant, and the charge of illegal entry is inconsistent with the facts. There was no clear border line and my clients are not guilty. I’ve provided a sufficient defense,” he said.

The U.S. government has appealed for the two men to be released, insisting that they have done nothing wrong. The two countries have no direct diplomatic relations, so Washington has been relying on an interests section at the Swiss Embassy in Tehran to follow the case.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner, speaking to reporters in Washington on Friday, said that two years after their arrest, the Americans’ case remains a point of serious concern.

“We are in regular contact with the family, we are in regular contact with our Swiss protecting power there,” Toner said. “And their situation remains a matter of utmost concern for the United States and we hope that it reaches a positive conclusion.”

The three Americans are friends from their student days at the University of California-Berkeley.

Shourd, now 32, and Bauer got engaged in prison before she was released on what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said were humanitarian grounds following health issues.

They say they were vacationing in Iraqi Kurdistan when they went hiking near a scenic waterfall.

Shourd told the New York Times last November that they stepped off an unmarked dirt road, inadvertently crossing from Iraq into Iran only because a border guard of unknown nationality gestured for them to approach. She said they had no idea they were so close to the border.

Shourd is back living in Oakland, Calif. Bauer grew up in Onamia, Minn., and Fattal is from suburban Philadelphia.

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

Comments (18)
  1. the crux of the buscuit says:

    Lets see, we are in a shooting war in Iraq, these ‘kids’ are out for a ‘hike’ and accidentaly stray over the Iranian border eh? Even I don’t believe that one. Would you believe that if they were Al Qaeda and they accidentaly strayed into Texas while ‘hiking’ in Mexico? Sure you would…..

    1. Patrick Shull says:

      Nobody goes on vacation in a war zone unless they are completely insane, stupid, spies and or are terrorists. We have wasted millions of dollars on these idiots and their families have wasted their money on their educations. Stop wasting money on them and let them rot in prison we have enough idiots here in America as it is, but again our government wants them back so they must be part of the idiot population.

    2. Esther says:

      aawww grow up…of course it was accidental…do you really believe if they weren’t Americans or Jewish, Iran would have jailed them? My God…I hope you will never be on a jury….puke.

  2. tom says:

    In this day and age they get released, come home to public appearances, book deals etc? YES YESS!!!!!!

    1. ron says:

      iran should shoot them and be done with it….the dumb girl too

      1. Dave says:

        You be right, ron.

    2. Jude says:

      Let me get this straight. They’re living in total isolation from other human contact in a cell just big enough to barely turn around in with the lights on 24/7, just enough food to get by and experiencing abuse of various degrees and you say an obvious financial boom from book sales, etc. like it’s all worth it. After you Buddy. Sounds like a helluva good time

  3. Three dull crayons in the box. says:

    Bite me. Idiots. And the dear fiancee is really helping her betrothed by skipping bail. Oh yeah, she’s a gem all right. All three of them lost the brains they were born with and deserve what they get. It’s as dumb as hiking in the mine field … brilliant Maynard!

  4. The Architect says:

    They aren’t coming back alive. Sad to say.
    What they devil were they doing over there anyway?
    Another great example how video games and mommy entitlement has created another unfortunate early death for two of our young people.

    1. sad but true says:

      He may be a “flamer”, but he makes very intelligent posts quite frequently!

    2. yep says:

      Video games? Ok weirdo.

  5. Mr. Mustache says:

    Iran needs some nuclear power plants. They can get the parts they need from the H bombs we drop on them. Nuke the rag heads.

  6. Dave says:

    The American government hates these three for what they’ve done. Their activities will be tracked by the FBI for the rest of their lives. Stay in Iran where you belong. Sarah too.

  7. Cache says:

    We were just hiking on our vacation by a beeeeuuuuteeful Waterfall way the hell in the far mountains of wacko Iran’s back yard…..gimmee a break! Wacko Ignoramus left wing looney spoiled brats with not one iota of brains between them…their Johnsons were thinking for them…sarah baby skipped out on the boys…and they will pay the price while the dumb witch reaps the moola…she suckered ’em..watch and learn boys…this is what a real siren looks like!

  8. All 3 are guilty says:

    They are spys. Send the little bit ch back to stand trial also. Either hang or stone all three. Then find the parents of the three and bi tch slap them

  9. Dee says:

    Right, like any of you yahoos would go back if you got out of there. And if they were spies, they were working for your government. What a bunch of jackbottoms you all are.

    1. Send her back. She lied says:

      Dee will make 4. You and your mentality goes along with theirs.

  10. yep says:

    I would take it with a grain of salt whether we hear a verdict or not this week.

    I also agree they are probably not simply hikers as our media/government is making them out to be.

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