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Lawyer: Iran spy trial for 3 Americans not held

Lawyer: Iran spy trial for 3 Americans not held

May 11th, 2011 in News

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iranian authorities postponed the long-awaited espionage trial of three Americans on Wednesday, their lawyer said. Two of the accused, still jailed in Tehran, did not appear in court as expected and the authorities gave no explanation.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have been held since July 2009 after being taken into custody on the Iran-Iraq border. A third American who was taken with them, Sarah Shourd, was released in September on $500,000 bail and returned to the United States. She is being tried in absentia.

Bauer and Fattal, who are both 28, remain in jail. The three claim they were hiking in Iraq's northern Kurdish region and any crossing into Iran was inadvertent.

Their Iranian attorney, Masoud Shafiei, told The Associated Press that Bauer and Fattal were not brought into court Wednesday as had been planned. Shafiei says Iranian officials gave no immediate explanation.

The trial opened on Feb. 6 and was to have continued on Wednesday.

Initially, Tehran accused the three Americans only of illegally crossing into Iran but later added espionage charges. Authorities have given few details to support the accusations.

Tehran's chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, has claimed, without elaborating, that the Americans had "equipment and documents and received training."

Shafiei says his clients deny the allegations and maintain any crossing into Iran was inadvertent. Shourd, 32, from Oakland, California, was ordered back to Tehran for the trial by Iranian officials but has said she won't return.

Shafiei said he was worried about his clients' health and the court's failure to hold the proceedings Wednesday.

"My clients are in custody of judiciary officials but they were not brought into court," he told the AP. "The trial date had been fixed a long time ago. There is no justification for the postponement."

The lawyer said he has not been allowed to see Bauer and Fattal since the February date of the trial's opening.