The trials of the three Americans charged with espionage and illegal entry into Iran may be delayed once more due to the absence of one of the accused, a defence lawyer reports.

Massoud Shafii told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the court has sent him a warning insisting that defendant Sarah Shourd appear in court on the set date of May 11.

“Such a warning could be a prelude to reconsideration of the trial date,” Shafii said.

Shourd, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer were arrested in the summer of 2009 in the border region of Iran and Iraq. Iranian authorities arrested them for illegal entry and later also charged them with espionage. The families of the detainees deny the charges and claim they were hiking in the Iraqi mountains and inadvertently strayed into Iranian territory.

Shourd was released on $500,000 bail last September, but the other two remain in Iranian custody.

The Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reports that, according to a knowledgeable source close to the families of the detainees, Shourd will not attend the May 11 trial in Iran.

Shafii, who is defending the three suspects, told the Campaign that the court should be able to process the files of the remaining Americans separate from Shourd’s. He claimed that, in fact, court regulations require the judge to review the cases separately.

Shafii added that the court has presented no evidence to support the espionage charges, arguing that even the charge of illegal entry is debatable because the border in the area where they were arrested is not visibly marked.