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Iran: Court to commute sentences for 2 Americans
Question of the Day
Salehi comments at a news conference Saturday come as international efforts intensified to seal a $1 million bail-for-freedom deal for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. They were detained along the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009 and each sentenced to eight years in prison.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The defense lawyer for two Americans jailed in Iran moved ahead with bail arrangements on Saturday, as international efforts intensified to seal a freedom-for-bail deal for the two men, convicted of spying.
Attorney Masoud Shafiei told The Associated Press he was in court, “following up the case” of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. Shafiei said he hopes Iran’s judiciary will clear the way for payment of $1 million in exchange for the Americans’ release.
Bauer and Fattal were detained along the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009 with their friend Sarah Shourd. She was released last September with mediation by Oman after $500,000 was paid. They maintain their innocence.
The first word of the bail offer for Bauer and Fattal, who have been in jail more than two years, came earlier this week from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He said the Americans could be freed in a matter of days. But Iran’s powerful judiciary then responded that the bail provisions were still under review.
The mixed signals could reflect the bitter internal political feuds inside Iran between Ahmadinejad and the country’s ruling clerics, who control the courts. Ahmadinejad and his allies are accused of trying to challenge the power of Iran’s Islamic establishment.
Shafiei said two judges have to sign the bail papers before the Americans could be released.
By noon Saturday, the Iranian lawyer said one judge had already signed while the second one was expected to do so in a matter of hours. Once the two signatures were in place, the bail money can be posted, Shafiei added.
A plane from the Gulf state is in Tehran to carry the pair out of Iran if a bail-for-freedom deal is reached. Swiss officials also are involved as representatives of U.S. interests in Iran, which has no diplomatic ties with America.
The men, both 29, were sentenced last month to three years each for illegal entry into Iran and five years each for spying for the United States. They have denied the charges and appealed the verdicts — which opened the way for the possible deal for $500,000 bail each.
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