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Release Of American Hikers Not Imminent, Iran's Judiciary Says

The limits of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's authority appear to be showing again with word from that country's official news outlet that:

"Iran's Judiciary has rejected recent media reports on the imminent release of the two American nationals that were convicted of spying on behalf of the United States."

As we reported Tuesday, Ahmadinejad told NBC News that Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal would be released "in two days." Also yesterday, a lawyer for the men said bail had been set at $500,000 each — the same amount paid when a third American, Sarah Shourd, was released last year. The three had been arrested in July 2009 when they crossed from Iraq into Iran. They were hiking and say they got lost. Iran accused and convicted them of spying.

But now, according to Iran's Press TV:

"The Public Relations Department of Iran's Judiciary announced on Wednesday that it is still examining pleas by lawyers of the two defendants for their release on bail. Information about the case will be released by the Judiciary and other reports on the issue are not considered reliable, the announcement read."

The Associated Press calls the judiciary's announcement "a potentially embarrassing rejection" of Ahmadinejad and "a swipe at [his] hopes of timing the release the Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal with his expected arrival in New York next week for the U.N. general assembly."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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