x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Three US hikers go on trial in Iran for 'spying'

Three Americans went on trial behind closed doors in Tehran yesterday on charges of espionage and illegal entry into Iran.

The trial of three Americans accused of espionage and illegal entry into Iran started in Tehran yesterday behind close doors.

Sarah Shourd, her fiance, Josh Fattal, and their friend Shane Bauer were detained by Iranian border guards in July 2009. The three hikers and their families deny the espionage charges and claim they accidentally strayed into Iranian soil while hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan. Ms Shourd was freed on US$500,000 (Dh1.83 million) bail and returned home last September. She is being tried in absentia.

Iran's judicial authorities denied access to journalists and members of the public to yesterday's proceedings.

The Swiss ambassador to Iran, Livia Leu Agosti, whose embassy has represented US interests in Iran since 1979, told the official Irna news agency that she had gone to the court on her own initiative but had been denied admittance to the trial.

No details of the proceedings or a date for the next session were released yesterday.

Masoud Safii, the Iranian lawyer representing the three Americans, told the Iranian Students News Agency on Saturday that he had been denied access to his clients for preparation of the defence.

msinaiee@thenational.ae