Court setback for American 'spies'

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The Independent Online

The lawyer for two Americans held in jail in Iran on charges of espionage said yesterday the court will announce its verdict within a week, dashing hopes for their immediate release.

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

The Americans' lawyer, Masoud Shafiei, had hoped that yesterday's court session would result in their immediate release because it coincided with the two-year anniversary of their arrest and was close to the start this week of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, when pardons are traditionally handed down. Mr Shafiei said he and the two Americans presented closing arguments in their defence, the court announced the end of its hearings and the judge will announce the verdicts in about a week.

He hopes that, if found guilty, they will be sentenced to time already served and released.