The lawyer for two American detainees sentenced to eight years in an Iranian prison says he still hopes for leniency in their case during the month of Ramadan.

Speaking to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Masoud Shafii said: “Sometimes, in some cases, certain things occur that are out of the lawyer’s control, and in view of the nature of this case, I hope that such a positive development may befall my clients.”

There are eight days left in the month of Ramadan.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have each been sentenced to three years in prison for “illegal entry into Iran” and another five years for “cooperating with American intelligence services.”

While Shafii once again insisted that his clients are innocent he added: “I still hope for my clients to benefit from Islamic compassion in this holy month of Ramadan.”

Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal were arrested for illegal entry near the Iran-Iraq border in the summer of 2009. They were later accused of spying by Iranian authorities. They deny the charges and claim they strayed into Iranian territory during a hiking trip in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Shourd was released on bail last September, and the Iranian judiciary says her file remains open because she did not return for the trial.

Several senior Iranian figures, including Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, had expressed optimism that the two Americans might be released prior to their sentencing. The stiff prison sentences reveal a deep rift between the Ahmadinejad administration and the hardline judiciary.