The fate of two hikers from Berkeley sitting in an Iranian jail remains unclear now that an Iranian judiciary official contradicted the country's president and said they won't be freed soon.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were sentenced to eight years in prison for violating Iran's borders, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told NBC's Ann Curry on Tuesday the two Berkely hikers were to be released in a couple of days as a "humanitarian gesture." But a judiciary official says not so fast.
"The two Americans are going to stay in prison for a bit longer," Iran's English language Press TV quoted the official as saying. "Reports of their imminent release are wrong."
Bauer, Fattal and Shourd were arrested in July 2009 by Iranian border guards as they allegedly crossed into that country without permission. Shourd was released on $500,000 bond in September 2010.
The hikers maintain they were in northern Iraq when they inadvertantly strayed into Iran.
The Associated Press has also reported that bail was also set for the men at $500,000. Their defense attorney, Masoud Shafiei, informed the Swiss Embassy about the decision. The Swiss represent the United States in Iranian affairs.
But now an Iranian judiciary statement says that bail is still under review.
A power struggle between Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has long dominated the country's domestic politics. Public bickering between Ahmadinejad and the country's religous clerics have outplayed on many fronts and had officials even accusing each other of black magic, Al Arabiya reported in May.
The U.S. and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.