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Lawyer Says U.S. Citizens' Release By Iran Delayed


Shane Bauer (left) and Josh Fattal at the first session of their trial in February

Shane Bauer (left) and Josh Fattal at the first session of their trial in February

The lawyer for two American citizens detained in Iran on espionage charges said today that their release could be delayed until September 20.

Lawyer Masud Shafiei said he was seeking a signature from a judge in the case, who is to be back from vacation on September 20, to secure the freedom of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal.

Eearlier in the day, an Iraqi envoy said the release could be timed to help improve Iran's standing as President Mahmud Ahmadinejad prepares to fly to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

"I expect that, God willing, over the next day or two, before the visit of Dr. Ahmadinejad to New York, that they will be freed," Nazem Dabbagh told Reuters.

The comments come after Iraqi President Jalal Talabani helped to negotiate their release with Iranian officials.

Twenty-eight-year-old Bauer and Fattal, 29, were last month sentenced to eight years in prison. They had been found guilty of espionage and entering the country illegally after being arrested on the border with Iraq in 2009.

Ahmadinejad last week pledged the "immediate" release of the men, but Iran's hard-line judiciary challenged his statement, saying they were ultimately responsible for the decision.

compiled from agency reports
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