MINNEAPOLIS — The mother of one of two American hikers still jailed in Iran said yesterday that she’s been told they will stand trial in November and that it will finally give them the chance to deny formally the espionage charges against them.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal remain in Tehran’s Evin Prison more than a month after the release of Bauer’s fiancée, Sarah Shourd, who was freed after complaining of health problems.
Bauer’s mother, Cindy Hickey of Pine City, Minn., said a Tehran-based lawyer representing the hikers’ families told them recently that her son and Fattal would stand trial Nov. 6.
“You don’t know how anxiously we’re awaiting that trial,’’ Hickey said. “The idea that there’s a trial at all is totally ridiculous, because these guys are not guilty of any crime. But at least it’s a sign that things are moving.’’
The families say Bauer and Shourd, who had been living in Syria, were hiking with their visiting friend, Fattal, in July 2009 in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region, near the Iranian border, when Iranian forces took them into custody and accused them of intentionally crossing it.
Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman speaking to reporters in Washington, said he didn’t have any information on a trial date. But he added: “Our position’s obviously well known on this matter. We believe that they’ve done nothing wrong and that they should be released immediately.’’
Hickey said she and other family members have provided their lawyer with much information to rebut the spying charges, which Hickey has called particularly ludicrous, given that Bauer was a freelance journalist for left-wing publications critical of US foreign policy.
Hickey said she and Fattal’s mother, Laura, have no plans to travel to Iran for the proceedings. She said they doubt that they could obtain visas and that they don’t want to be a distraction.
Hickey said the families’ lawyer, Masoud Shafii, could provide few other details about the pending trial, including whether the hikers would be tried together or separately. Shafii has not been allowed to meet with his clients since they were charged in mid-September with espionage and illegally crossing a border, Hickey said.