- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 19, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The mother of one of two American hikers still jailed in Iran said Tuesday that she’s been told they will stand trial in November and that the trial finally will give them the chance to formally deny the espionage charges against them.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal remain in Tehran’s Evin Prison more than a month after the release of Mr. Bauer’s fiancee, Sarah Shourd, who was freed after complaining of health problems.

Mr. Bauer’s mother, Cindy Hickey of Pine City, Minn., said a Tehran-based lawyer representing the hikers’ families told them recently that her son and Mr. Fattal would stand trial Nov. 6.

“You don’t know how anxiously we’re awaiting that trial,” Ms. Hickey said. “The idea that there’s a trial at all is totally ridiculous because these guys are not guilty of any crime. But at least it’s a sign that things are moving.”

The families say Mr. Bauer and Ms. Shourd, who had been living in Syria, were hiking with their visiting friend Mr. Fattal in July 2009 in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region, near the Iranian border, when Iranian forces took them into custody and accused them of intentionally crossing it.

Ms. Hickey said she and other family members have provided their attorney with much information to rebut the spying charges, which Ms. Hickey has called particularly ludicrous given that Mr. Bauer was a freelance journalist for left-wing publications critical of U.S. foreign policy.

Ms. Hickey said she and Mr. Fattal’s mother, Laura Fattal, have no plans to travel to Iran for the proceedings. She said that they doubt they could obtain visas and that they don’t want to be a distraction.

Ms. Hickey said the families’ lawyer, Masoud Shafii, could provide few other details about the pending trial, including whether the hikers would be tried together or separately. Mr. Shafii has not been allowed to meet with his clients since they were formally charged in mid-September with espionage and illegally crossing a border, Ms. Hickey said.

Mr. Bauer and Ms. Shourd later became engaged while in prison. She was released from custody on Sept. 14 and has returned home to California, where she continues to speak out for the release of Mr. Bauer and Mr. Fattal.

Ms. Hickey is back home after more than three weeks of travel related to Ms. Shourd’s release. She helped plan a showing at the University of Minnesota this Saturday of “Songs of Enemies and Deserts,” a documentary Mr. Bauer and a fellow journalist made about residents of Africa’s civil-war-beset Darfur region.

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