Iran judiciary denies US men`s release is imminent

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 14:44

Tehran: Two US nationals arrested while hiking in Iran and convicted of spying will not be released imminently, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had announced, a judiciary official said on Wednesday.

"The two Americans are going to stay in prison for a bit longer. Reports of their imminent release are wrong," Iran`s English-language Press TV quoted a judiciary official as saying.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were sentenced in Iran last month to eight years in prison.

Ahmadinejad told US media that they would be freed "in a couple of days," in what he called a humanitarian gesture shortly before he travels to the United Nations in New York.

The judiciary said Bauer and Fattal`s release on bail was under review.

"Their lawyers have requested Bauer and Fattal be released on bail and the judge of the court is reviewing it ... Only the judiciary is authorized to reveal information on this case," a judiciary statement said, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

The lawyer for the two Americans said on Tuesday they would be released on USD 500,000 bail each.

The pair was arrested in July 2009 near Iran`s border with Iraq, where they say they were hiking in the mountains as tourists, along with a third American, Sarah Shourd.

Bauer and Fattal were convicted last month and share a cell in Tehran`s Evin prison. Shourd was allowed to go home after being freed on $500,000 bail in September 2010.

Washington has denied they were spies. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was encouraged by Ahmadinejad`s remarks.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 14:44

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