TEHRAN — Iran’s intelligence minister insists that two United States hikers who remain in custody more than a year after their capture near the Iraqi border must be tried in an Iranian court.
“In the opinion of this ministry, the two detained Americans accused of spying must await trial by the judiciary,” Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi told reporters from IRNA, Iran’s state-run news agency, on Friday in Lebanon, where he had gone on a state visit with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iranian officials have accused the two Americans, Shane M. Bauer and Joshua F. Fattal, both 28, of spying, but no formal charges have been brought against them since their arrest in July 2009. Similar accusations were leveled against a third hiker, Sara E. Shourd, 32, before she was released last month.
Mr. Fattal had gone to visit Mr. Bauer and Ms. Shourd, who are engaged, in Damascus, Syria, where they were working and studying. They took a trip to Iraqi Kurdistan and were on a hike to the Ahmed Awa waterfall when they were detained by Iranian security forces who accused them of crossing the border into Iran.