WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Saturday it was trying to confirm an Iranian TV report that two U.S. citizens held by Iran were jailed for eight years for spying and it reiterated its call for their release.
"We have repeatedly called for the release of Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, who have now been held in Iran's Evin prison for two years. Shane and Josh have been imprisoned too long, and it is time to reunite them with their families," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
Iranian TV reported that the two Americans were sentenced to three years in prison for illegal entry and five years for spying. They have 20 days to appeal, it said.
Bauer and Fattal, were arrested on July 31, 2009 near Iran's border with Iraq, along with a third American, Sarah Shourd, who was freed on $500,000 bail in September 2010 and returned home.
The trio, in their late 20s and early 30s, say they were hiking in the mountains of northern Iraq and, if they crossed the unmarked border into Iran, it was by mistake.
The United States, which does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, was trying to get more information on the reported sentencing from the Swiss Protecting Power, which handles U.S. diplomatic interests with Tehran, Nuland said.
(Reporting by Paul Eckert, Editing by Sandra Maler)