Three American hikers accused of espionage and illegally entering Iran plead not guilty on February 6. A charge of espionage can carry the death penalty in Iran. Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal were arrested in Iran on July 31, 2009, while hiking in the mountains of Kurdistan near a waterfall. None of the three intended to enter Iran.
They entered northern Iraq with visas from Turkey on July 28 and had planned to spend five days visiting the area. Their families contend non of the three have any affiliation with the United States government, that they are teachers and artists. Shafiee, the hikers’ lawyer, said that he will only be permitted to see his clients to prepare their defense for one or two hours before the proceedings. All three Americans have denied that they knowingly entered Iranian territory or that they were involved in espionage. Do you think the talks over Iran’s nuclear program will determine the fate of the hikers?