Terrible news. Iran state television has reported that Investigative Fund reporter Shane Bauer and his companion Josh Fattal have been sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran.
The television report cited an unnamed judicial source, and Bauer and Fattal’s attorney, Massoud Shafei, has yet to be formally notified, according to the Los Angeles Times.
As the LAT notes:
Their case was tried by a branch of the country’s politically charged Revolutionary Court, which handles national security cases and has been accused of failing to abide by international or even Iranian standards of jurisprudence, especially when it comes to defendants’ rights.
The Washington Post cites the website irinn.ir as saying the two were each sentenced to three years for illegal entry into Iran and five years for spying for the United States, again citing unnamed sources in Iran’s judiciary. It is not yet clear whether those sentences include the more than two years the two men have already served in Tehran’s Evin Prison; they were arrested on July 31, 2009.
Both charges are absurd. Eye witness testimony uncovered in our own reporting, corroborated by the account of Sarah Shourd, Bauer’s fiance, who was released last year, strongly indicate that the three friends, who had embarked on a hiking trip in the scenic mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, only crossed the border into Iran after being gestured off their hiking trail by armed guards. The spying charge is ludicrous, and Iran has never offered a shred of evidence for this claim. That’s because no such evidence exists.
Bauer and Fattal have 20 days to appeal the sentence. As the Washington Post editorialized earlier this month, as rumors were circulating of a possible compassionate release for Ramadan, “Promises of leniency by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the case have not been borne out….If the court finds them guilty on the charges of espionage, we hope they will be sentenced to time served and released.” The choice to release them now lies in Ahmadinejad’s hands.