Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal: reports suggest the two men have been sentenced to eight years in prison

According to Reuters, CNN and other news sources, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, the two U.S. hikers detained in Iran on spying charges in 2009, along with their friend Sarah Shourd, have been sentenced to eight years in prison. The news was apparently reported on Iran’s state-run TV on Saturday.

The pair each received five years for espionage — specifically “cooperating with the American intelligence service” — and three years for illegal entry, IRINN reported, quoting an “informed” judiciary source. Shourd was released from prison on a $500,000 bail in September 2010, although she was still considered a defendant in the case

Susan Gluss, Deputy Director of Communications at UC Berkeley’s School of Law, described the sentence on Twitter as “cruel and unusal punishment”.

Fattal and Bauer have already been detained in Iran for two years.They were seized on July 31, 2009 with Shourd when hiking in the Iraqi Kurdish region and allegedly crossed into Iran illegally.

The men’s lawyer, Masoud Shafiee, said he had not been informed of the verdict. “I don’t know if this report is true or not, but this is not a light sentence,” he told Reuters.

The pair have 20 days to appeal their sentence, which was handed down by the Revolutionary Court.

Read the development of the hikers’ story, who were grad students at UC Berkeley, on Berkeleyside. Visit the Free the Hikers website set up by their families.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...