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American hikers in Iran await verdict a week after trial ends

From Shirzad Bozorgmehr, CNN
Shane Bauer, left, and Josh Fattal, center, seen here in February, are accused of being spies.
Shane Bauer, left, and Josh Fattal, center, seen here in February, are accused of being spies.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The Americans' attorney says court officials have not issued a sentence
  • The U.S. State Department says the hikers have been held "too long"
  • The hikers' families call on Iran to "show compassion"
  • Fattal and Bauer's attorney says he hopes his clients will be sentenced to time served
RELATED TOPICS
  • Iran
  • Shane Bauer
  • Josh Fattal

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- The attorney representing three American hikers accused of being spies in Iran said Sunday that he was still awaiting word about his clients' fate.

Attorney Masoud Shafiei said he had not heard anything from court officials as of 6:30 p.m. Sunday, a week after a hearing that he hoped would result in a swift and lenient ruling.

After last week's hearing, Shafiei said an Iranian court was scheduled to issue a verdict within a week -- an assessment reiterated by a U.S. State Department spokesman.

On Saturday, state-run Press TV reported that "Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi expresses hope that the trial of the three U.S. nationals detained on charges of espionage and illegal entry will result in their freedom."

"God willing ... the Judiciary will present necessary information in this respect when the time is right," Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said during a news conference in Tehran.

He praised the courts for trying the case with "fairness and justice."

Shafiei -- who represents Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd -- has argued that his clients were innocent of charges of illegal entry and spying.

Fattal and Bauer remain imprisoned in Iran. Shourd was tried in absentia after her release last year due to medical reasons.

"We can still appeal this decision if we disagree with it. But I am hoping for the best," Shafiei said after the July 31 hearing, which was the last court proceeding in their trial.

"The trial of Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd has concluded and a verdict is expected within the coming week," U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement last week.

"We have repeatedly called for the release of Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, who have now been held in Iran's Evin prison for two years. Shane and Josh have been imprisoned too long, and it is time to reunite them with their families."

The hearing -- which the hikers' families said lasted about four hours -- came two years to the day after the hikers' arrest near the country's border with Iraq.

Fattal and Bauer have been in Iranian custody since then. Shourd was released in September 2010 for medical reasons, returning to the United States after 410 days of solitary confinement. She remains a defendant in the case, but was not required to appear in court for the July 31 hearing.

If the court reaches a guilty verdict, Shafiei said the time the two have spent in Iranian custody is enough.

"I believe that even if the court finds my clients guilty, the two years that they have already served in prison would be considered as their sentence and they would be released," he said.

"My clients should not be considered spies, because they lack the characteristics and backgrounds of spies," he said.

Fattal and Bauer's families issued a statement saying the hope for "an outcome that will bring freedom for Shane and Josh."

"We pray that the Iranian authorities will show compassion to Shane and Josh and we ask everyone who supports them and cares for them to join us in beseeching the grace of God at this important time. The coming days fill us with great hope but they will also be difficult for our families."

Two years ago, the two men along with Shourd -- Bauer's fiancee -- were hiking in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region along the border.

Iranian police arrested the three Americans, saying they illegally entered Iran. They were also charged with spying.

The Tehran Prosecutor's office has "compelling evidence" that the three were cooperating with U.S. intelligence agencies, Press TV reported.

Shourd said the hikers did not know they had crossed the border while hiking.

Fattal and Bauer have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Under Iran's Islamic law, spying is punishable by death.