Bauer, left, and Fattal have been in an Iranian jail for more than two years [Reuters]

Two US nationals convicted of spying will not be released imminently from prison, Iran's judiciary has said, a after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country's president, said they would be released in a "couple of days".

"While denying [the] release of two Americans accused of espionage, the public relations of the judiciary announces that the request of the lawyer to post bail and free them is being studied by the case's judge," said a statement posted on the judiciary website on Wednesday.

"Any information in this regard will be issued by the judiciary and any release of information from other sources is not valid," it added.
 
Bauer and Fattal were arrested in July 2009 near Iran's border with Iraq, where they say they were hiking in the mountains. They were sentenced last month to eight years in prison on spying charges.

Ahmadinejad told US media on Tuesday that they would be freed in what he called a humanitarian gesture shortly before he travels to the United Nations in New York.

Iran's English-language Press TV quoted a judiciary official as saying "Bauer and Fattal's release on bail was under review".

Sarah Shourd, a US citizen who was arrested with them, was freed on bail on humanitarian and medical grounds in September 2010 and returned home.

On Tuesday, an Iranian judge said he would release the men on payment of $500,000 bail each.

Shourd was allowed to go home after paying the same amount in bail.

Bauer and Fattal, who share a cell in Tehran's Evin prison and deny the charges, were convicted at a trial held behind closed doors. 

Their supporters say evidence against them has never been made public. 

US President Barack Obama has denied that the two men, who were working in the Middle East when they were detained, had any link to US intelligence.

Source: Agencies