Hearing for hikers accused of spying delayed again

The latest scheduled hearing for three UC Berkeley alumni Iranian officials have accused of spying was again postponed last Wednesday.

Neither Shane Bauer nor Josh Fattal — who have been detained in Iran for nearly two years — was ever brought to the courtroom Wednesday for the scheduled hearing in their ongoing trial, according to major media outlets. Though the reason for Bauer and Fattal’s absence is not ultimately known, the pair’s lawyer, Masoud Shafie, is reported to have lodged a formal protest against the trial’s delay.

Bauer, Fattal and Bauer’s fiance, Sarah Shourd, were arrested by Iranian officials in 2009 for allegedly spying while hiking along the Iran-Iraq border. Shourd was released on $500,000 bail in September after discovering a lump in her breast. She did not appear for the last trial date that was scheduled in February.

Fattal and Bauer have remained in Iran and pleaded not guilty in court, while Shourd pleaded not guilty in absentia. The hikers and their families have maintained that they were not spying and that if they crossed the border, it was accidental.

Though Shourd received a subpoena April 27 to appear in court, she has refused to return to Iran for the hearing, stating that she is experiencing depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of her imprisonment.

Clinical forensic psychologist Barry Rosenfeld diagnosed Shourd and said in a statement that her symptoms may become worse if she were to return to Iran.

“Given the clear link between her capture and incarceration and the emergence of severe psychological symptoms … there is little doubt that Ms. Shourd’s symptoms would worsen substantially if she were forced to return to Iran and face criminal sanctions,” he said in the statement.

Judges have delayed two previous hearings for the three hikers, citing Shourd’s absence as the reason for the delay.

In a statement released May 9, the families of Bauer and Fattal urged for the hikers’ release.

“Throughout this terrible time, we have been promised again and again by the Iranian government that the case will be dealt with swiftly and compassionately,” the statement reads. “That has not happened and we call on the authorities to take this opportunity to end the mistreatment of two young men who have done no wrong to Iran and mean more to us than anything.”

Allie Bidwell is the news editor.