American hiker Sarah Shourd may be released

Iranian authorities are prepared to release on $500,000 bail one of three American hikers held since last year, Tehran’s chief prosecutor said Sunday.

However, the trio was formally charged at a morning session with espionage and trespassing into Iran, and the detention of the other two Americans was extended for two months, the hikers’ defense attorney told The Times.

All my clients pleaded not guilty and did not accept the charges,” attorney Masoud Shafii said in a telephone interview, adding that the three were in “good spirits.”

Prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi told reporters at a briefing that bail had been set at the equivalent of $500,000 for Sarah Shourd, according to various Iranian news agencies. But he also said the “order of arrest for the other two American nationals has been extended.”

Shourd, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer were arrested more than 13 months ago along the Iran-Iraq border during what relatives of the detainees called an ill-fated and innocent hiking trip in northern Iraq.