WASHINGTON: Washington said Saturday that two US hikers "have been imprisoned too long" in Iran and that it was looking into reports that they had been sentenced to eight years in jail for spying.
"We are working to confirm these reports and are in contact with the Swiss Protecting Power to obtain more information," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
"We have repeatedly called for the release of Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, who have now been held in Iran's Evin prison for two years," she added.
"Shane and Josh have been imprisoned too long, and it is time to reunite them with their families."
A spokesman for the families of the two men declined to comment on the reported sentencing.
Iran's state television, quoting a judiciary source, had earlier reported that the two hikers were sentenced to eight years in prison for entering the country illegally and spying for a US intelligence agency.
The Swiss embassy, which handles US interests in Iran since diplomatic relations were severed in 1980, said it was not in a position to confirm the report.
Bauer and Fattal, both 29, were arrested with fellow American Sarah Shourd, 32, on the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq on July 31, 2009. Shourd was freed on medical grounds in September and returned to the United States.
The trio claim they were hiking in Iraq's northern province of Kurdistan when they innocently strayed into the Islamic republic.
Washington has vehemently denied Tehran's charge that the three were spies and has repeatedly called on Iran to release Bauer and Fattal.
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Imprison them for life.... that will set an example for US for sending spies to other countries and not keeping its nose in its own business. No other country in the world does this, Canada shares a border with US but I never hear Canada sending spies to Pakistan or Palestine or Iran or Canadian's running down Pakistani pedestrians or Canadians shooting Pakistani men and then fleeing the scene, although Canada is in the same continent as US so why is it so hard for US to keep its crap in its own country and not meddle with other countries affairs. This US madness should be stopped before its too late. Punish these spies well, set and example.
Hiking in Iran my foot!
Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.Dear Americans please keep it in your minds firmly and strongly and never forget it that Irani leaders are not like Pakistani leaders who have shown tenderness and gentleness to USA in Raymond Davis case.Irani leaders are much more brave and courageous than Pakistani leaders before US leaders because this is all as a consequence of Iranian economy doesn't depend on US aid.Much the best punishment for two US' hikers fulfilling the requirements of justice and equality.
Looking at the whole picture, it will be hard for most people to believe that those Americans are innocent - unless they are idiot savages. The reason? Entering Iran, a nation designated "Axis of Evil" and a supporter of terrorism by the U.S, defies logic! There are 192 countries registered at the U.N.; most of them have hiking places and scenery much better than Iran, and they are friendly to a fault! If I went to Afghanistan, and the Taliban caught me hiking in their mountains, would they believe that I went there - half-way around the world- to climb rocks at a time that our country is killing Taliban on a wholesale scale, or to spy on them?
Would the Iranians believe that they lost their way into Iran at a time that the U.S., Israel and France were giving Iran ultimatums to stop its nuclear program or face a massive bombing campaign? I suspect that those Americans might have been scouts for the Iranian anti-government group MTK or for the Israeli Intelligence, scouting unguarded routes to smuggle weapons and explosives into Iran. The fact that 2 Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated by bombers in motorcycles recently proved that foreigners had entered Iran with explosives. The "cause and effect,' therefore, is there, as it is here in the U.S. That is why the TSA body searches even 5-year old kids at the airport gates to make sure they don't carry any hidden explosives for grown ups. Too many wars and too much hostility between the West and the Muslim world is bound, therefore, to create many sad stories -like this one- among hostile nations, and only few happy endings.
If I were a buffoon, and had a stupid idea to hike close to the borders of a hostile country, like Somalia, for example, I would use a Global Positioning System (GPS) which for $ 150 will keep me out of Somalia and safe. I hope those guys get a lesson when they get out, and they don't go for another hike into the other "Axis of Evil" state for the U.S. - North Korea. I have no doubt that they won't spend 8 years in prison. But the Iranian conviction is certainly a warning to spies or adventurers from hostile states: "Entering Iran illegally is going to be more than an adventure." Nikos Retsos, retired professor
Demand the Iranians release these young men immediately . Set a deadline for their release. Tell the Iranians in no uncertain terms we will remove their entire country from the face of the earth with nuclear weapons if they don't. Then, if needed, keep our word. This will stop all these idiot countries around the world from holding Americans hostage. Don't think this will work ? We didn't hear any more from Gaddafi in Libyia after President Reagan had a few regular 500 pound bombs dropped in his tent.