Conflict & Justice

American hikers jailed in Iran file appeal

The lawyer for two American hikers recently sentenced to eight years in prison for spying and illegally entering Iran said on Sunday that he had filed an appeal in the case.

The lawyer, Masoud Shafiee, expects it could take from two days to two months for the court to respond, CNN reports.

"However, I am hopeful that because of the holy month of Ramadan, and because my clients are innocent, the authorities will show mercy and release Shawn Bauer and Josh Fattal in a few days," Shafiee said.

Ramadan ends this week and, according to CNN, the judiciary has in the past marked the month's end by presenting a list of convictions to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and recommending he pardon the sentences.

Bauer and Fattal, both 28 years old, were sentenced earlier this month. They were arrested by Iranian soldiers in July 2009, along with Bauer's fiancee Sarah Shourd. The trio denied the charges, saying that they had unknowingly crossed over the border into Iran while hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Shourd was released on bail last September for health reasons, and returned to the United States. She did not return to Iran for the trial, forfeiting a $500,000 bail. Her case remains open.

CNN reports that Bauer and Fattal each received five years for "cooperating with the American intelligence service" and three years for illegal entry. The Tehran Prosecutor's office told the state-run Press TV it had "compelling evidence" in the case, something Shafiee has disagreed with.

"It was my belief, and still is, that they are innocent and I have not seen any evidence that shows they are guilty," he told Reuters after the sentence was handed down.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the United States is "deeply disappointed" with the jail sentence.