Iran begins trial of Amricans held for spying

Sunday, February 6, 2011

LONDON - The trial of the three Americans held in Iran for spying began Sunday in an Iranian court.

The details of the proceedings were not known, but according to local journalists, the closed-door trial was underway, the Guardian reported here.

Tehran’s revolutionary court imposed a blanket ban on observers, including the Swiss ambassador, Livia Leu Agosti, who represents US interests in Iran.

The three US nationals, including a woman, who were detained in July 2009 at the Iraqi border, said they were hiking in Iraq’s Kurdistan region and if they crossed into Iran it was inadvertent. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The Tehran Prosecutor’s office said it has “compelling evidence” that three were cooperating with US intelligence agencies, according to Iran’s Press TV.

In September, Iranian officials released the woman detainee, Sarah Shourd, on $500,000 bail arranged through Oman, which maintains close ties with the west and Iran.

Shourd’s fiance, Shane Bauer, and their friend, Josh Fattal, are held in Tehran’s Evin prison.

Last week, Iran officially demanded that Shourd return for the trial, but she stayed in the US.

Shourd and Bauer had been living together in Damascus, where Bauer was working as a freelance journalist and Shourd as an English teacher. Fattal, an environmental activist, went to visit them in July 2009 shortly before their trip to northern Iraq.

Filed under: Immigration, World

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