Justin: Iran’s judiciary has confirmed reports that two American citizens held in the country have been found guilty of espionage and illegal entry.
It was the top story in iran: two Americans sentenced to eight years in prison for charges of spying and illegally entering Iran. Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have already spent more than two years behind bars. Josh’s mom writes him letters every day to keep his spirits up.
“I always tell him how proud I am that he is doing well in prison, I hope, and that he should not worry, that he is going to see and smell and feel freedom very soon.”
Justin: In July 2009, the group says they were hiking in the northern Kurdish region of Iraq before accidentally crossing an unmarked border into Iran where they were arrested. With them, a third hiker named Sarah Shourd, who was freed due to medical problems last September on a half-million dollars bail.
Sarah Shourd: The most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do is leave prison without Shane and Josh. That day, there they were smiling; they were beaming. They were so happy for me and they were so hopeful that they would soon follow me.
Justin: While in prison, Shourd and Bauer got engaged. Since coming home, she has been trying to get her fiance and friend released, even leading a rally at the Iranian embassy in New York.
Recently, Shourd and the hikers’ families have called on the United Nations to look into the case. Even the state department has spoken out, saying Shane and Josh have been imprisoned too long, and it is time for them to come home. But so far, American efforts to free the hikers have not worked, and one Iran expert says there is a reason.
“In part because the more effort that we devote, the more the Iranians say, ‘Ooh! Goodie! We have ourselves a wonderful bargaining chip here. Let’s see what more we can get for this.’”
Justin: No word yet if the hikers’ time behind bars will count toward their new sentences.
Justin Finch, Channel One News.