Iranian hikers: Ambassador expects release for Fattal and Bauer

The best sign for hope yet in the two-year Iranian imprisonment of Elkins Park native Josh Fattal and friend Shane Bauer came yesterday when the Middle Eastern country’s ambassador to Iraq said: “The general atmosphere is that they will be released.”

Ambassador Hassan Dannaie Fir told the Associated Press in an interview, “We hope and expect that very soon they will be released.” He mentioned well-known sympathy in Muslim countries for pardons during the holy month of Ramadan.

His statements are consistent with those made last Sunday by attorney Masoud Shafii, who represents both Americans, after the prisoners had a short trial in front of a Tehran judge.

Shafii said that he hoped the 29-year-olds would be found innocent within a week of the trial or would be released on time served for the last two years. They were arrested while hiking on the Iraq-Iran border on July 31, 2009, and charged with espionage.

Fattal’s brother yesterday afternoon said the family had yet to hear any news from Iran.