Ahmadinejad: Hikers To Be Freed Soon

Posted September 20th, 2011 at 3:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is insisting that two U.S. hikers jailed in the country will be freed “soon,” in spite of a delay in his country's judiciary.

The U.S. based ABC television quotes Mr. Ahmadinejad as saying he had earlier promised that Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal would be freed “within the next few days” and he was still “saying the same thing.”

He commented as he arrived in New York on Tuesday to attend a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

Last week, Mr. Ahmadinejad said the two hikers would be released from prison soon. However, Iran's judiciary said their bail provisions were still under review.

Earlier Tuesday, a lawyer for the two men said he was still waiting for the return of a second judge who needed to sign their release order. Masoud Shafiei said he had hoped to complete the paperwork on a $1 million bail but the judge had not returned from leave.

In August, Tehran sentenced Bauer and Fattal to eight years in prison on spying convictions, saying they had illegally crossed into the country from Iraq.

The two hikers were arrested in 2009 along with a third American, Sarah Shourd. She was freed on $500,000 bail last year and returned to the United States.

The three Americans have always proclaimed their innocence and say they were hiking in the mountains of northern Iraq while on vacation.

They said that if they crossed the unmarked border into Iran, it was by mistake.