New Trial Date Announced for Hikers Amidst Objections from Lawyer
Massoud Shafiee, the lawyer representing the three American hikers, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran of his objections to the new date set for his clients’ trial and that he has not been allowed to see his two clients who remain in Iran since Sarah Shourd’s release on 14 September 2010.
“The next court date has been set for 2 February, which I find too late. For this reason, I have written a letter to Mr. Salavati, the case judge, asking him to either arrange for an earlier court date, or to release Shane and Josh on bail, like Sarah Shourd, allowing them to stay at the [Swiss] Ambassador’s home or at the Swiss Embassy. My clients and I had nothing to do with the fact that the previous session was not convened. This happened due to the failure of prison authorities and the court itself,” Shafiee told the Campaign.
Shafiee told the Campaign he does not know the reason Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were not brought to court on 6 November. “It was natural for Sarah not to be there, as she was not summoned. The other two were in prison and, naturally, they should have been brought to court, as they couldn’t come themselves. I asked the judge that day in court that if you summoned them and they have not been brought in, you should write this in the minutes and I would sign it,” he said.
Referring to his last meeting with Fattal and Bauer on the day of Shourd’s release, Shafiee said, “When I saw the case judge, Mr. Salavati, a few days ago, he said that you will see them in court on their trial date. It will be useless to meet them in court for preparing my clients’ defense. In order to protect the rights of my clients, I must see them before the court date, if I am to submit a good defense. I was able to read the file with a lot of hardship, but they did not allow me to see Josh and Shane.”
“Before the first court session, the Judiciary Spokesperson said that if Sarah does not appear her bail amount would be confiscated. I said in my interviews that his statement is illegal, as Sarah has not been served with a formal summons. I had a duty to attend the 6 November court session, even though everyone said the court would not convene. Everyone was in court that day, except for the suspects! So long as a formal summons from the Iranian justice system has not been served to Sarah Shourd, confiscating her bail would be meaningless and illegal,” said Shafiee.
“I have read all the details in the case file and in it there are no reasons for accusing my clients of espionage. Even for ‘illegal entry’ my clients are not at fault, because the border is not easily recognizable. Not too long ago, members of the Parliament asked the Foreign Ministry why the borders are not marked with bars. Now, when individuals such as members of Parliament and the Minister of Foreign Affairs cannot recognize the borders, how can we expect that three foreign hikers and tourists would recognize them? I believe the whole issue of espionage in the case is moot, and even if the ‘illegal entry’ charge is correct, my clients are not at fault about this,” Shafiee explained.
Three American hikers, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Joshua Fattal, were arrested on 30 July 2009 on the Iran-Iraq border in Kurdistan. The three have been accused of espionage and illegal entry. On 14 September, Sarah Shourd was released on $500,000 bail after months in solitary confinement. Bauer and Fattal remain in Evin Prison.