Iran Releases US Hikers Accused of Espionage

Two years ago, American Shane Bauer, his girlfriend Sarah Shourd, and mutual friend Joshua Fattal were arrested on the Iran-Iraq border while hiking. Taken to the notorious Evin Prison, the three were held in solitary confinement, allowed to see each other for only two half-hour periods a day. While in confinement, Ms. Shourd and Mr. Bauer became engaged.

Last September, Ms. Shourd was released on “humanitarian grounds,” just before the 2010 session of the UN General Assembly, most likely through Swiss intervention. The Shourds have since stated that she was denied medical care while imprisoned.

On August 20, 2011, it was reported that Mr. Bauer and Mr. Fattal had been convicted by the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Iran of illegally entering the country and “cooperating with the American intelligence service.” They each received an eight year sentence.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran

On Wednesday, 21 September, they were released on $500,000 bail to the staff of the Omani embassy in Tehran, and have subsequently left Iran for Oman, meeting with friends and family in the southwest Asian state.

Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei

Observers have suggested that their release is part of an effort to gain support for Iran by President Ahmadinejad in the General Assembly, while others feel that it is more likely a move by the conservative factions within the government, to emphasize the primacy of the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, and his faction. A week ago, Professor Vali Nasir of Tufts University told the New York Times that “the conservatives are trying to establish the fact that Ahmadinejad is not their boss.”

The case for espionage remains open, and all three are still formally under investigation, but it is unlikely that any of the trio will return to face imprisonment.


-Sebastian Bates, World News Correspondant 

Posted by on September 22, 2011. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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