Iran FM hopes judges will expedite hikers case

Iran's top diplomat said Monday he hopes his country's judiciary will expedite the case of two Americans charged with spying, comparing it to that of two German journalists released last week.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran's government is "working on" the case of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, who were arrested in northern Iraq with a third American, Sarah Shourd, near the Iranian border in July 2009.

Bauer, a native of Onamia, Minnesota, and Fattal, who grew up in Pennsylvania, pleaded not guilty earlier this month. Shourd was released on bail last September and pleaded not guilty in absentia.

"We already saw the freedom of two Germans that were detained in Iran, and about the two Americans, we are working on it," Salehi told reporters in Geneva. "We hope that this entire process will be expedited and that our judiciary will very objectively look into the case" of the Americans, he said.

The two German journalists, working for Berlin-based tabloid Bild am Sonntag, were freed after German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle traveled to Tehran and a court commuted their 20-month prison sentences to a fine.

Salehi declined to say whether a humanitarian release might be possible for Bauer and Fattal.

American-Iranian journalist Roxanna Saberi was arrested in Iran in January 2009. She was convicted of espionage and sentenced to eight years in prison, but freed on appeal in May 2009.