Breaking free - Page 4

How a small group of Bay Area activists helped free their friends from Iranian prison — a Guardian exclusive

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Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Alex Fattal at the Venezuelan consulate in New York

Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's foreign minister, told her he thought Chavez would be open to helping. "The foreign minister went to Tehran, and they told me they were going to broach the subject," Golinger said. "When they came back, they told me unfortunately, it wasn't a topic that was received favorably by the Iranians."

Rosenfeld and Martinez were crazed, but they had another idea. Perhaps Chavez would be more responsive to appeals from lefty luminaries. Thanks to behind-the-scenes arrangements made by campaign organizers working every connection they could muster, a letter dated Feb. 26, 2010 was sent to Chavez on behalf of Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, and Harry Belafonte.

"All three of the hikers are dedicated to improving living conditions for poor and oppressed people throughout the world, and to fostering a better understanding among their fellow citizens of the U.S.'s hegemonic role in global politics and economic privation," they wrote.

Soon after, Golinger had a chance to speak with Chavez directly, when she was invited to join him on a trip to Uruguay to attend the presidential inauguration. "He said, 'do you think they're spies?' I said, look, I don't think they're spies. I think they were gringos in the wrong place at the wrong time," she recounted. "Chavez said, yeah, no problem. I'll help."

Soon after, the campaign recruited anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan to write to Chavez, too. But the months rolled by without word of a trial date, let alone a release. Rosenfeld thought up a new way to reach Chavez — by encouraging actor Sean Penn to speak with him.

Penn enjoyed a good relationship with the Venezuelan president and had been regularly traveling to the region to aid in earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, which Venezuela was deeply involved in. Rosenfeld asked Matt Gonzalez, chief attorney of the San Francisco Public Defender's Office and a friend of Penn's, to mention it to him.

Within months, Penn discussed the hikers' case with Chavez, according to Golinger. Then, in September of 2010, Shourd was finally released. Bay Area friends described it as a moment of sheer joy, but also bittersweet, because Bauer and Fattal remained behind bars. Miller invited friends and organizers over to her place in Oakland to join her in the surreal experience of watching their friend deliver a speech on television.

Meckfessel was in Rome as part of his "Free Our Friends" tour through Europe. "I got a text message from somebody that she had been released, and I burst into tears of relief," he said. "Then, just as I was preparing to do my presentation in Rome, I got a call — and it was Sarah. I just shouted and cried in front of this big group of Romans, and everyone was applauding."

Upon her return, Shourd wasted no time throwing herself into the campaign. "I just have so much admiration and respect for Sarah," Miller said. "She went from coming out of prison, and needing time to heal from that, to becoming a full-force, 24/7 international diplomacy worker."

Shourd, Bauer, and Fattal were unavailable for an interview for this article, but their families emailed a statement. "As Josh and Shane said when they got home, many of their friends put their own lives on hold to fight for their freedom," they wrote. "We are grateful to the many people who worked in many different ways to help Shane and Josh. Every single effort mattered and made a difference."

 

Comments

delusional.

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 10, 2011 @ 7:51 am

Now that will be rich....3 sellouts wined and dined by their leader Clinton in Washington......picture of the 3 ***Hikers*** arm in arm with none other than Clinton. A picture is worth a thousand words. It will go over real big in the Middle East. Did Bauer plant a wet one on her???Did Shourd try to explain away her "I am ashamed of USA ditty?" Did FARTall express his thanks for not blowing his Jewishness??? Now their hinies are so owned, 1.5 million buys much these days.

Posted by Guest Full OF It on Oct. 16, 2011 @ 9:42 am
Posted by meatsack on Oct. 16, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

They are morons.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2011 @ 9:17 am

What I find irritating is these morons still insist they did nothing wrong.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2011 @ 10:14 am

They made some bad choices, they are confused about how the world works, and they made assumptions about the power of good intentions, but what did they do "wrong?"

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 10, 2011 @ 11:38 am

I'll tell you what they did wrong - they made a bad decision and never acknowledged responsibility, which was hiking and camping overnight near the Iranian border. They did not research the area nor did they even look at a map to realize how close they were. None of them have real jobs and have instead spent their years protesting the USA, then whined that the USA wasn't doing enough to support them.

Not once have any of these 3 dingdongs admitted their own stupidity, instead continuing to play up their status as "victims". I hope the 2 years in prison was a reality check.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 8:24 am

They are intelligent, compassionate people who are dedicated to illuminating the stories of other cultures around the world. When the US gov is more likely to bomb first and ask questions later, the type of courage displayed by "the hikers" is impressive.

Posted by ianmack on Oct. 11, 2011 @ 11:03 am

The 3 fools: this Shourd who did nothing to help the twin Iranian girls who pleaded with her to help them regarding their mother who has been in USA pison for 3 years.Shourd the bimbo did and said nothing!So much for conflict resoloution .Bauer who fancies himself as a journalist, seeking truth,is himself deceptive and shuns the press. He thanked the Zionist media for their coverage, yet he refuses to own up to the real story here.Answers no questions, refuses to own the fact that they were STUPID Goofs who were where they had no right to be! Refuses to admit HIS goverment had much to do with their freedom. FARTALL and his family hid the fact that is a JEW, Yeah like Iran did not know?? It was hidden from Americans as we know why. Shourd who was busy in Syria telling how she is ashamed of America, The Ass, Trying to promote her femmie ways to women who are quite happy where they are. You know what??, you were not loved in Syria, you dumb twitt. You were set up there....Good luck trying to get back into the spotlight as you will need to answer some probing questions, Your Zionist media were oh so careful not to ask...such as, what were you doing Miles, hours beyond the waterfall??? Why were you so free to come and go in Syria, when you were also in Israel many times? Just try and return to Syria you 3 goofy looking twits.. Get a freeking job the 3 of you. PAY BACK the money you bilked from the dumbed down morons on the FTH web site who were stupid enough to fall for the story. Then pay back the 1.5 million the USA tax payers forked over to get your flat putrid asses out of Iran The masses wait for the three of you to rear your ugly heads in the near future, you have no story, your time is up, Just go away.

Posted by Guest Full OF It on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

Oh yes another thing....Kudos the the twit brother of the jew. Alex FARTall ... Nice side stepping on that radio interview you did,during your long winded blubbering the only caller allowed to ask a question, asked you about how it was going with paying back the bail by the 3 twitts, You replied it was merkey, and that the only thing that matters is that they are free........Hmmmmmm.In other words, the UGLY 3 are never planning of repaying one red cent.... You know what ?? The 3 OWE big time. SHOUT OUT TO THE 3 . THANKS FOR THE HELP TO BRING 2 Countries CLOSER TO WAR! EVEN your lawyer stated you were not abused......DID YOU EVEN PAY HIM???

Posted by Guest Full OF It on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 12:26 pm
wow

you're really angry.

Posted by marke on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

Disgusted is more the word... The 3 turds went on ***vacation*** and hiked MILES beyond a tourist site, miles away to the very border of Iran. They get caught, then cry like girls. They get released, and return to their USA ,they say they are not going to take any questions, then they go on a thank-you tour....Creeps, Shourd that ugly ape like creature and her femmie so called boyfriend , and that jew in hiding, Fattal ,have done much to help USA to instigate more hate toward Iran, just what USA wanted from them. Job well done! Now the 3 freaks are on a thank ya tour.They are paying their due to the USA for their freedom... They are cosying up to Clinton ,as is demanded. Syria must be so pleased with you. Guess you will just pretend you were forced to meet with Clinton??? What happened to **they hate America?????? Their bed mate is the very head of the **System*** they claim to be aganst. The freaks sold out... Enjoy the tour you asswhipes.Not like you will ever be seen as anything more than sellouts . SHOUT OUT ...Hey Shourd did ya forget about the TWINS?

Posted by Guest Full OF It on Oct. 14, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

I always find it amazing to read the comments section. It makes me wonder what people are doing in real time...like why one would have so much time to spew such negative thoughts. The internet is an amazing way for people to anonymously state the ugly truths about themselves without suffering the consequences of censorship. After reading some of these comments, especially the ones filled with anger towards people who are perfect strangers...I somehow begin to understand why some countries do practice censorship. It seems governments are partly trying to cover up the stupidity of humanity so as so save face. Perhaps this is also partly why so many other cultures view Americans so poorly. It irks me to realize that people will post anything to validate anger and resentment within themselves, and consider what they say to be educated responses.
So you keep up with current affairs, good for you. If you want the world to side with your opinions, or understand your criticisms, perhaps find a way convey your thoughts more intelligently. No one wants to believe angry ranters. But then that's what this place is all about. Go America.
full or MORONS, and people without jobs. Accept it. Do you even have a job? Or do you get off from work just to post such hate on the internet?

Posted by Guest J. Yang on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

for anyone who wants to criticize, yeah, i know my grammar and syntax isn't perfect. get over it.

Posted by Guest J. Yang on Oct. 12, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

I am appalled at the people who are leaving negative comments on this story. Where is your humanity? I was deeply affected by this story because I was very compassionate for the Sea of Green movement in Iran and very concerned for their treatment in Evins prison, a place known for torture of the worst kind.

Whatever their decisions to go hiking to find a waterfall, should not be a reason to berate them. Why can't this world be peaceful and we inhabit in freely among one another upholding each other and living towards serving fellow man.

As they endured their plight I found small amounts of time to blog, tweet or facebook about them, but that is nothing compared to the work that went on behind the scenes and I also want to acknowledge Mrs. Clinton for her diligence.

I make a simple request to generate peace in your thoughts, so that your words create the reality of peace on Earth, and practice random acts of kindness.

Be well, and be happy for their survival, and their friends and families and their own nightmare to be over with.

May true healing begin, and please be a part of that...don't add to it, uplift them in good will, deeds and thoughts.

That's the least you can do after reading this article. There is no need for anything less.

Posted by Heather Dalberg on Oct. 15, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

If you are so concerned about world peace and everyone loving and caring for each other, why not take up the case of an Iraninan prisoner langushing in USA prison? Why not look into the case of this Iranian woman ,Shahrzad Mir-Qolikhan who is in USA prison for something they pinned on her X husband? Sarah Shourd went back on a promise to help this woman's twin teen girls upon her return to USA .Shourd who had the press as her platform,after meeting with the girls in Iran, said and did nothing about this womans plight . So Heather Take up the cause Shourd promptly forgot about. You want to spread peace and light,why not start working for this woman's freedom??You want the world to pay hommage to 3 Jewish american twits who were caught on the border of Iran, who caused much trouble, time and money to get them back to their USA.They are back in USA no worse for wear, Now you want to guide the world to pay hommage to them, to not ask any questions, to not demand the full accounting as to why they were so intent on hiking miles PAST a waterfall up to the very border of Iran? Now the so called *activists*are seen holding court with none other than Clinton and as many connected cronies as they can in Washington.They are known by the company they keep. Kind of hard for the world to see them as anything more than sellouts . Washington can use them now as they OWE, and they willingly help to further spread anti Iran babble. Mission acomplished.This is not the FreeThe Hikers web site. Do not expect anyone to toe the line and play by the rules of posting fluff. You have no filter where the public can post freely. The masses outside of the FTH are not buying it. So do no act surprised to see just now many posts all over the internet are so disgusted with the fools who now want to be seen as heroes.

Posted by Guest Full OF It on Oct. 16, 2011 @ 3:20 am

Hey Heather, what are you smoking?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 8:26 am

I am appalled at the people who are leaving negative comments on this story. Where is your humanity? I was deeply affected by this story because I was very compassionate for the Sea of Green movement in Iran and very concerned for their treatment in Evins prison, a place known for torture of the worst kind.

Whatever their decisions to go hiking to find a waterfall, should not be a reason to berate them. Why can't this world be peaceful and we inhabit in freely among one another upholding each other and living towards serving fellow man.

As they endured their plight I found small amounts of time to blog, tweet or facebook about them, but that is nothing compared to the work that went on behind the scenes and I also want to acknowledge Mrs. Clinton for her diligence.

I make a simple request to generate peace in your thoughts, so that your words create the reality of peace on Earth, and practice random acts of kindness.

Be well, and be happy for their survival, and their friends and families and their own nightmare to be over with.

May true healing begin, and please be a part of that...don't add to it, uplift them in good will, deeds and thoughts.

That's the least you can do after reading this article. There is no need for anything less.

Posted by Heather Dalberg on Oct. 15, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

I am appalled at the people who are leaving negative comments on this story. Where is your humanity? I was deeply affected by this story because I was very compassionate for the Sea of Green movement in Iran and very concerned for their treatment in Evins prison, a place known for torture of the worst kind.

Whatever their decisions to go hiking to find a waterfall, should not be a reason to berate them. Why can't this world be peaceful and we inhabit in freely among one another upholding each other and living towards serving fellow man.

As they endured their plight I found small amounts of time to blog, tweet or facebook about them, but that is nothing compared to the work that went on behind the scenes and I also want to acknowledge Mrs. Clinton for her diligence.

I make a simple request to generate peace in your thoughts, so that your words create the reality of peace on Earth, and practice random acts of kindness.

Be well, and be happy for their survival, and their friends and families and their own nightmare to be over with.

May true healing begin, and please be a part of that...don't add to it, uplift them in good will, deeds and thoughts.

That's the least you can do after reading this article. There is no need for anything less.

Posted by Heather Dalberg on Oct. 15, 2011 @ 2:07 pm
Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Oct. 15, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

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