The Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran has sentenced U.S. citizens, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal to eight years of prison each. They received a verdict of three years for entering Iran illegally and five years for “espionage.”

The two men were arrested two years ago (July 2009), along with a female colleague, Sarah Shourd, when the three were apparently hiking in the mountains in Iraq in a region close to the Iranian border. They purportedly strayed into Iranian territory, where they were arrested by Iranian authorities.

Sara Shourd was released on $500,000 bail and has not returned to Iran, but the two men have been held since their arrest.

Their lawyer, Masoud Shafei, claimed he had not been informed of the verdict.

Apparently, they have 20 days to appeal the verdict.

The verdict came as a shock to many who had thought the Iranian government may release them during the holy month of Ramadan.

The claims by the Iranian government that the hikers were engaged in espionage are dubious and unsupported by any tangible evidence.

It remains to be seen what the reaction from the U.S. government will be to this harsh sentence.