Editor’s Note: In one of the most ridiculous court cases in recent times, two jailed US hikers are somewhat closer to release from an Iranian prison. Charged with spying, the two men were sentenced to 8 years in prison, a fate quite horrifying to imagine.
By ALAN COWELL and RICK GLADSTONE
LONDON — The Iranian judiciary on Wednesday contradicted an assurance by Iran’s president that two Americans arrested two years ago while hiking the Iran-Iraq frontier and imprisoned on espionage charges would be freed as a humanitarian gesture, the state news media reported.
American Hikers to Be Freed in 2 Days, Ahmadinejad Says(September 14, 2011)
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejaddisclosed the plan to liberate the hikers, Shane M. Bauer and Joshua F. Fattal, on Tuesday in a move that seemed timed to portray him more favorably before he attends the United Nations General Assembly meeting next week. But the judiciary’s announcement could prove to be deeply embarrassing, showing the limits of his power and highlighting the frictions between Mr. Ahmadinejad and the conservatives who control the courts.
Specifically, the apparent conflict over the Americans’ legal status could reflect a worsening rift between Mr. Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation’s spiritual leader and highest authority, who is closely allied to the courts.
On Wednesday, the state media reported that “Iran’s judiciary has refuted recent media reports on the imminent release of two American nationals that were convicted of committing espionage against the Islamic Republic for the U.S. government.”
“The two Americans are going to stay in prison for a bit longer. Reports of their imminent release are wrong,” a judiciary official was quoted as saying. READ MORE