Iran Sets New Date for Hearing of American Hikers

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian authorities will hold a hearing next month in the case of the three American hikers who were charged with espionage, their lawyer said Tuesday.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have been detained since July 2009, while Bauer's fiance, Sarah Shourd, was released last year on $500,000 bail.

They deny the charges and claim they were only hiking in a scenic area of northern Iraq near the Iranian border. Shourd has refused to return to Iran for trial.

Masoud Shafiei told The Associated Press he has been notified that there will be a hearing on July 31. Iran has said it expects to make a final decision in the case of three Americans by late August.

Shafiei said he has not been able to meet with the two detained Americans in recent months and hoped to meet with them before the court session.

In May, relatives of the two men said they called their families by telephone. It was their such first phone call since Nov. 27.

The U.S. government has often appealed for their release, insisting that they have done no wrong.