US Hikers in Iran Plead Not Guilty
Court procedure drags on for 5 hours
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Feb 7, 2011 2:00 AM CST
US hikers Shane Bauer, left, and Josh Fattal listen to proceedings yesterday at the Tehran Revolutionary Court, Iran.   (AP Photo/Press TV)
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(Newser) – Two American hikers imprisoned in Iran pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that included trespassing and spying. UC Berkeley grads Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer have been held in an Iranian prison for 18 months after they were busted for allegedly straying across the border during a 2009 hiking trip. The two appeared to be in good health, said their local attorney.

"I hoped the case would have ended" yesterday, lawyer Masoud Shafii told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview. But he added that he's optimistic another court session will be set "in the near future" to settle the case. The proceedings took some 5 hours. Shafii presented a defense statement concerning the trespassing charges, but did not specifically answer the spying allegations, according to state radio. A third hiker, Sarah Shourd, who's engaged to Bauer, was release last year on $500,000 bail and allowed to return home to the US. She has been called back for trial, but has not returned to Iran.