(SHIRAZ, Iran) -- Two American hikers being held in Iran have now been behind bars for 444 days, matching the milestone set by the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis in 1981.
From Nov. 4, 1979 to Jan. 20, 1981, armed Iranian students held 52 Americans hostage after seizing the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. On Monday, hikers Josh Fattal's and Shane Bauer's imprisonment at Tehran’s Evin prison matched that same time span. They were arrested along the Iran-Iraq border in August of last year.
Fattal’s brother, Alex, said it’s a milestone the hikers and their families never wanted, or expected, to reach, but it’s now clear they will add to it. Iranian officials tell ABC News they will face trial for spying.
The hikers’ continued detention stands in contrast to the relief for Iranian-American businessman Reza Taghavi, who was released from Evin on Saturday after two and a half years behind bars.
"We welcome the release of Reza Taghavi. His punishment did not fit the alleged 'crime,'” spokesman PJ Crowley told ABC News. “The hikers are in the very same situation. Having crossed over an unmarked border, they have certainly spent enough time in custody. If the Iranian government believes in justice, they should be released."
Held in the same prison as the hikers, Taghavi was arrested in May 2008, accused of passing $200 to a anti-regime terrorist group, called ‘Tondar’. Taghavi maintained, and the Iranian authorities eventually agreed, that he did so unwittingly, carrying what he thought was a gift to someone in need in Tehran.
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