“I Hope They’re Freed By the End of Ramadan,” Says Americans’ Lawyer
After returning from the courtroom of Judge Salavati, Masoud Shafiee, lawyer to the three American hikers, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on Sunday, August 21, that he had seen the ruling of the lower court for his clients and made notes of the cases, so that he can prepare for the appeal during the 20-day time frame allotted for presenting appeals. Shafiee said that despite his clients’ heavy sentences, he is very hopeful that the blessed month of Ramadan will free them. He said that in addition to the appeal, other avenues for protesting the case are also available, but that at this time he and his clients will only concentrate on the appeal.
“I personally believe that my clients are innocent. The lower court’s ruling was strange, and was not at all proportionate to the points raised in court. There are no reasons that could justify their conviction. I will use everything within my power to prove their innocence. My clients are ordinary citizens and if they really were spies, they would have spent much less than two years in prison,” said Shafiee. He added that the judge told him that Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer had been served their sentences the day before. He said he was not allowed to speak with his clients himself. According to Shafiee, the two-year detention of the Americans will be counted towards their eight-year prison sentence. Shafiee also represents Sarah Shourd, whose sentence has not yet been issued.
Shafiee expressed hope that the wishes of the families of the two Americans would come true and Iranian officials would take the holy month of Ramadan into consideration and release the two prisoners on humanitarian grounds. “Legally, we are going to appeal this ruling. But in our country, such occasions could bring good news that could make the three American families rejoice. Sometimes in some of these cases events occur that have nothing to do with the lawyer, and considering the nature of this case from its inception, I am hopeful that such positive events will include my clients as well,” he said. When asked about how realistic his expectation of a release in view of the heavy sentences could be, Shafiee said: “There have been other cases with heavy sentences where, due to other events that transpired alongside the case process, the accused were set free. I hope such events, outside of the judicial process, will also include the cases of my clients.”