Imprisoned hikers' families react to sentencing

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Shane Bauer (left) and Josh Fattal were unexpectedly sentenced to long prison terms in Iran last week.
Free the Hikers

The families of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal issued a statement yesterday (Sun/21) after receiving confirmation that the two men, both 29, had been sentenced to eight years in prison after an Iranian court found them guilty of illegal entry into Iran and espionage on behalf of the United States.

"Of the 751 days of Shane and Josh's imprisonment, yesterday and today have been the most difficult for our families," the statement notes. "Shane and Josh are innocent and have never posed any threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran, its government or its people.

"We are encouraged that the Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, has said he hopes the case will proceed in a manner that will result in Shane and Josh's freedom. We appeal to the authorities in Iran to show compassion and allow them to return home to our families without delay.

"We also ask everyone around the world who trusts in the benevolence of the Iranian people and their leaders to join us in praying that Shane and Josh will now be released."

Bauer and Fattal were arrested with Bauer’s fiancée, Sarah Shourd, on July 31, 2009 on the unmarked border between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan where the three had been hiking during a vacation. Shourd, 32, was released on humanitarian grounds last September after spending 410 days in solitary confinement. Bauer and Fattal were sentenced after more than two years of detainment awaiting trial.

“We have repeatedly called for the release of Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal,” U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland told the Guardian. “Shane and Josh have been imprisoned too long, and it is time to reunite them with their families.”

The United States maintains the two men have no connection to the United States government. Speaking earlier on the issue, President Barack Obama said, “I want to be perfectly clear: Sarah, Shane and Josh have never worked for the United States government. They are simply open-minded and adventurous young people who represent the best of America, and of the human spirit.”

Iraqi Kurdistan, the region where the three had been hiking, is a semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq that has been notably more stable then other areas of Iraq since the 2003 U.S. lead invasion. The U.S. State department had affirmed the relative safety of travel in the Kurdistan region of Iraq just weeks before their ill-fated trip.

Bauer, a freelance writer and photojournalist who has written for the Guardian and other Bay Area news outlets, and Fattal, an environmental advocate, are both graduates of UC Berkeley had both traveled extensively abroad pursuing their vocations and interests.

Shourd has indicated that she does not plan to return to Iran to stand trial, but has been a constant advocate for the release of her traveling companions. Supporters have organized several events in the Bay Area, including an art auction and film screening, to assist in the efforts calling for the hikers' release from Iran.

Bauer and Fattal appeared in court only once on February 6 this year when they testified to their innocence verbally and in writing. Their Iranian lawyer, Masoud Shafiee, has said he will appeal the verdict. It remains unclear if the time they have served thus far will apply to the court sentence.

Speaking about the case, Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton said, “We continue to express our hope that the Iranian authorities will exercise the humanitarian option of releasing these two young men.”

The Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations has not yet returned the Guardian's request for comment.

Rebecca Bowe contributed to this report.

Comments

As much as I enjoy when the ante gets upped past the point of no return this is really one of the stupidest things Iran has pulled off in relation to the USA lately.

It's unreal on so many levels, not the least of which that the USA would never recruit these hippies, and if they did why would they be monkeying around that area in the first place?

Iran is really full of backward religious idiots who make Eastern Block show trials look reasonable.

Posted by Matlock on Aug. 22, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

I wounder what would have happened to any Iranian which could have been caught hiking in the Zionist entity boarder area?! Let me see..shot on site?! Most likely. They shot the Palestinians like cats and dogs, why not someone that are just hiking and have no business to be there in the first place!

So these guys got 8 years, what is the big deal it could have been worse for them. They should be happy they are still alive.

Get real.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 23, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

Spend a few days in jail then sent back to Iran. Probably hung for being a spy by the Iranians.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 29, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

well you ain't "matlock", Genius. Is Iran going to hang these Zionists stooge?! Doesn't look like it, does it now?! How do you like them apples?

Get real.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2011 @ 8:47 am

http://www.rferl.org/content/iran_hangs_political_activists/2285299.html

"

Local media say two Iranian political activists have been hanged in Tehran.

The Tehran prosecutor's office said in a statement the two men, Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Hajaghaei, were hanged January 24 for having ties with an exiled Iranian opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI), and for "rioting" during protests in 2009 against the disputed reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Last January, another member of the PMOI along with a monarchist dissident were executed for their involvement in the postelection protests.

"
----

Iran will hang stone or kill it's own citizens if they think they are protesters, if they are locked up in Iran for a few days they will probably think they are agents of the Mossad or some such crazy Stalinist paranoia.

And what Zionist's are you talking about?

"Is Iran going to hang these Zionists stooge?! " What does that mean? We all make syntax errors but your whole post is one. What Zionists and what stooge? Ron Ashton or Moe?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2011 @ 10:22 am

Just what does the riots and the election protesters have anything to do with these "4 hikers" and how are you trying to tie the two together?! These "4 hikers" = "Zionists stooges" have spent 2 years in jail so far and no one has thrown a single stone at them. Hoe about that!! So, maybe You should encourage them to go and hike in the occupied territories in "Palestine" next time when they are out.

What Iran does with her people is their business and what we do with ours is our business.

Get real.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 31, 2011 @ 5:48 am

ravings.

Posted by meatlock on Aug. 31, 2011 @ 8:21 am

Just what does the riots and the election protesters have anything to do with these "4 hikers" and how are you trying to tie the two together?! These "4 hikers" = "Zionists stooges" have spent 2 years in jail so far and no one has thrown a single stone at them. How about that!! So, maybe You should encourage them to go and hike in the occupied territories in "Palestine" next time they want some fresh air, when they are out.

What Iran does with her people is their business and what we do with ours is our business. So there.

Get real.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 31, 2011 @ 5:59 am

Well, we still don't know why the "Number 4" hiker is out of the picture here?! No one has seen him or interviewed him and he is not in any of these pictures that we see these guys together?! Isn't that strange or what? That guy got sick in a very convenient time after he sent these guys out to do what was planned and he has disappeared!

The inquiring minds what to see this operative and to know more about him and his alliances. Some one said "MOSAD". This will make a good 007 move.

Get real.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2011 @ 11:35 am

Look at the last two comments: "Zionist entity." Even Syria no longer uses that kind of language.

Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Aug. 29, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

"anti-Semites"!! what does that exactly mean here!? Is "Zionist" the same thing as a "Semite"? Don't try to pull a race card. It does not work here. Please.

Get real.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2011 @ 8:41 am

They're working for Mossad. You're an antisemite for posting that unproven allegation - again and again and again.

Get real.

Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Aug. 30, 2011 @ 11:57 am

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