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Trial for U.S. hikers detained in Iran set for February

From Reza Sayah, CNN
The mothers of Shane Bauer, shown left, and Josh Fattal hold pictures of the two hikers being held in Iran.
The mothers of Shane Bauer, shown left, and Josh Fattal hold pictures of the two hikers being held in Iran.
  • Attorney: "My hands are tied"
  • The court said the two did not show up at an earlier date
  • The hikers have been held since 2009
  • Joshua Fattal
  • Shane Bauer
  • Masoud Shafii
  • Iran

(CNN) -- A trial for two American hikers held in Iran has been postponed until February 6, their attorney, Masoud Shafii, said Sunday.

The reason for the delay was the absence of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer at the initial trial date of November 6, Shafii said he was told. The court told him the two were summoned to court but did not show up, he said.

Shafii said that makes no sense, because the two are in government custody, and it's the government's responsibility to bring them to court.

"I am upset, but my hands are tied," he said. "I can't do anything. I've read their case file, and I found no reason for them to be charged with a crime, so even one more day in prison is not justified."

Bauer and Fattal have been held in Evin Prison in the Iranian capital of Tehran for more than a year. They and a third hiker, Sarah Shourd, were arrested in 2009 after they allegedly strayed across an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region. Iran has accused them of espionage. Shourd was released on humanitarian grounds in September.

State-run media reported days before November 6 that the trial date had been postponed as officials decided whether or not to summon Shourd.

"The court schedule for the two Americans was set, but the judiciary itself faced a problem, which was whether or not to summon Sarah Shourd to appear in court," Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, spokesman for the judiciary and attorney general for Tehran, said at a news conference, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

"Apparently she had not been summoned to appear in court. Today I heard that the courts had decided that the third national who was freed and released earlier must also appear in court."

In early November, Iran's mission to the United Nations said Bauer and Fattah's parents would be allowed to speak to their sons via telephone. The decision on the phone calls was made based on "humanitarian consideration" after meetings with U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-New York, and Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee, according to Mahdi Nourian, a spokesman for Iran's U.N. mission.

It was not known Sunday whether the telephone contact has occurred.