No final verdict has been reached for the three American hikers in Iranian custody, says Iran’s deputy Judiciary Chief.
“The three American hikers have been charged and their case is being studied at the Tehran Prosecutor General’s Office,” IRNA quoted Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi as saying on Wednesday.
Shane Michael Bauer, Joshua Felix Fattal, and Sarah Emily Shourd were arrested in the western Iranian district of Marivan, at the Malakh-Khur border point on July 31 while they were hiking near Iran’s border with Iraq.
The three were traveling on Syrian and Iraqi visas and, according to Iranian officials, crossed the border illegally.
Raeisi further emphasized that Iran’s Judiciary is independent and judges decide about cases.
Raeisi’s remarks come two days after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the three would stand trial in the country.
According to Mottaki, the three young Americans had “suspicious intentions” in crossing the border.
“The three American citizens will be tried by Iran’s judiciary system and relevant judiciary verdicts regarding their cases will be issued,” Mottaki told reporters on Monday.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reacted to Mottaki’s announcement, calling on Iran to free the three hikers.
“We appeal to the Iranian leadership to release these three young people and free them as soon as possible,” Clinton told reporters.
Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi said earlier in November that the three Americans entered the country to carry out acts of espionage.
“They are charged with espionage. Investigations into the case of the three are underway,” Jafari-Dolatabadi said.