Americans allegedly sentenced for spying in Iran

The Associated Press is reporting that the two American men, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal,  arrested more than two years ago while hiking along the Iraq-Iran border, have been sentenced to eight years in prison for espionage and illegally entering Iran.

The two men were detained in July 2009 along with a third American, Sarah Shourd, who was released in September 2010 on $500,000 bail and returned to the United States.

The Americans say they mistakenly crossed into Iran when they stepped off a dirt road while hiking near a waterfall. While other parts of Iraq remain troubled by violence, the semiautonomous Kurdish north has drawn tourists in recent years, including foreigners.

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Both 29, they have been sentenced to three years each for illegal entry into Iran and five years each for spying for the United States

The U.S. government has appealed for the two men to be released, insisting that they have done nothing wrong. The two countries have no direct diplomatic relations, so Washington has been relying on an interests section at the Swiss Embassy in Tehran to follow the case.

The last direct contact family members had with Bauer and Fattal was in May 2010 when their mothers were permitted a short visit in Tehran.

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