Former Berkeley Student Called Back to Iran to Stand Trial

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UC Berkeley alumna Sarah Shourd has been summoned to return to Iran after being released to go home to the United States five months ago in order to stand trial on accusations of espionage, according to the Associated Press.

Shourd, along with two other UC Berkeley alumni - her fiance Shane Bauer and friend Josh Fattal - was apprehended by police while hiking near the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009 and was then imprisoned in Tehran. While Bauer and Fattal are still detained in Iran, Shourd was released on humanitarian grounds in September after she discovered a lump in her left breast. However, a Revolutionary Court in Tehran requested on Jan. 31 that Shourd return to Iran to appear in the court case Feb. 6.

The Associated Press's report on the summons, which came from Iran judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi, stated that the court date - which has already been postponed from a Nov. 6 date - is now set for Sunday. However, the date can still be pushed back if "the defendant requires more time."

In a November interview with The Daily Californian, Cindy Hickey, Bauer's mother, said the families have weekly conference calls with the attorney in Iran. However, she added that details about the case were not very clear to both the family and the lawyer at that time.

The Associated Press also reported that the Iranian government warned Shourd that if she does not return for the case, the government will seize the $500,000 bail that was put up for her release in September.

Though Shourd declined to comment on recent reports, in a previous interview with The Daily Californian, she said her attorney in Iran was confident that the two men would receive a humanitarian release.

"We're in regular contact with our lawyer," she said in the interview. "And he remains optimistic that we're getting close to resolution and that Shane and Josh will be found innocent."

Samantha Topping, a publicist for Shourd, Bauer and Fattal's families, did not respond to repeated requests for comment regarding the summons.

Victoria Pardini covers Berkeley communities. Contact her at [email protected]

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