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Release of U.S. hikers from Iran delayed

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Release of U.S. hikers from Iran delayed

Lawyer for pair says judge's vacation scraps plan until at least Tuesday

  • Shane Bauer (left) and Joshua Fattal (center) in an Iranian court with their lawyer Masoud Shafi.
    ABC News screengrabShane Bauer (left) and Joshua Fattal (center) in an Iranian court with their lawyer Masoud Shafi.

The release of two American hikers jailed in Iran, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, has been delayed until at least next Tuesday, their lawyer has announced.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said he would release Bauer and Fattal last week after a bail deal was struck, and one judge signed the documents granting them freedom, ABC News reports. However, a second judge whose signature is also required on the bail papers is on vacation until next week, lawyer Masoud Shafie told Reuters.

On Sept. 15, Oman sent a plane to Iran to transport the two men to freedom, raising expectations that their release was imminent.

The 29-year-old Americans were detained with a third American hiker, Sarah Shourd, while walking along the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009. Iran accused all three of spying for the United States.

While Shourd was released last September after paying a $500,000 bail and did not stand trial, Bauer and Fattal were convicted of spying and illegally entering Iran last month. Their appeal of their eight-year prison sentence resulted in an agreement to release them in exchange for two bail payments of $500,000.

According to ABC News:

The president, the foreign ministry, even the judiciary are all on record saying they support the release, but some elements within the government are trying to deny Ahmedinejad what he clearly seems to want: a grand gesture before he travels to the U.S. Monday for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

Neighboring Iraq says it helped to mediate the release, and an Iraqi official told Reuters the release would happen in spite of the delays.

"I predict that before the visit of Dr. Ahmadinejad to New York, they will be freed," Nazem Dabbagh, the Iraqi envoy to Iran, told Reuters TV.

The Iraqi envoy said the detainees would be sent to the Swiss embassy in Iran, which represents U.S. interests in Tehran.

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This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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