A day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he would release the two former UC Berkeley students detained for allegedly crossing the border more than two years ago, Iran’s judiciary contradicted these statements Wednesday, saying the Americans’ release is not imminent, the New York Times reported.
Ahmadinejad said Tuesday in an interview with the Washington Post that he would grant Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal — who were seized in 2009 for crossing into Iran while hiking along the Iran-Iraq border with Bauer’s fiancee, Sarah Shourd — “unilateral pardon.” However, Iran’s judiciary refuted these statements Wednesday.
CNN reported Wednesday afternoon that an Omani official is headed to Iran to help negotiate the release of the two men. Omani officials were involved in the release of Shourd, a former UC Berkeley student who was also arrested by Iranian officials, who was returned to American soil last year, according to CNN.
Last month, Bauer and Fattal, after more than two years of detention in Iranian prison, were convicted of espionage and sentenced to eight years in prison. The two men each received five years imprisonment for espionage and three additional years for allegedly entering the country illegally. The conviction was widely condemned by world leaders as unnecessarily harsh.
Soumya Karlamangla is the assistant city news editor.