Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, freed from Iran, call for release of all political prisoners

Categories: International
bauer fattal new york.jpg
Shane Bauer, left, Josh Fattal: Back home, and speaking out.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have returned to the United States, and begun describing their two-plus-year ordeal in Iran as accused, convicted, and imprisoned "spies."

The two Americans had to go on hunger strikes just to receive letters from family, and heard the echoing screams in Evin Prison as other political prisoners were beaten. Bauer and Fattal spent time in solitary confinement, and were told by prison guards that their families had given up on them.

Those details emerged during a press conference yesterday in New York City, during which Bauer, a native of Onamia and a freelance journalist, and Fattal first officially addressed the media about their imprisonment.

Bauer has also been reunited with his fiancee, Sarah Shourd, whom Iranians released on $500,000 bail last year. Bauer had proposed to Shourd while the two were held in prison.


She accepted, after he presented her an engagement ring he'd spun together out of threads from his shirt, according to the Washington Post.

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Shane Bauer: Opposes political imprisonment by Iran -- and the United States.

Shourd, Bauer, and Fattal all met when the three were undergraduate students at the University of California. Since then, Bauer has taken up work as a rootless photojournalist and writer, filing stories for the Nation and the Christian Science Monitor, and filling his blog with dispatches from across the Middle East and Africa.

It's still unclear who paid for Shourd, Fattal, and Bauer to be released: Their families have said they don't know who put up the bail money, and the U.S. State Department has said it would refuse to pay such a ransom to Iran. Because the U.S. and Iran have no formal diplomatic relations, American authorities had to negotiate through back channels, using Swiss and Omani diplomats to secure Bauer and Fattal's freedom.

Upon the news Bauer and Fattal were out, Barack Obama issued this statement:

I welcome the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal from detention in Iran and am very pleased that they are being reunited with their loved ones. The tireless advocacy of their families over these two years has won my admiration, and is now coming to an end with Josh and Shane back in their arms. All Americans join their families and friends in celebrating their long-awaited return home.

We are deeply grateful to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the Swiss government, and to all our partners and allies around the world who have worked steadfastly over the past two years to secure the release of Shane and Josh.

But, while Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both welcomed them back, Bauer did not pass up the chance to make a political point that cuts both ways. The moment the two had stepped off the plane that took them from Iran to Oman, Bauer made clear that he didn't forgive Iran, but that it wasn't the only country holding people for political reasons.

"Two years in prison is too long," he said, "and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners, and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran."

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Sarah Shourd agreed to marry Bauer while the two in Iranian prison.
At the press conference, Bauer said Iranian prison guards would explain their bad treatment of the Americans by making reference to Muslims held at America's off-shore prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in C.I.A. prisons across the world.

To no one's surprise, Bauer said the Americans' arrest and imprisonment was about one thing only: their nationality as Americans. This was a cruel reality, given that the three Americans found hiking near the Iran-Iraq border in the summer of 2009 seem more likely to  publicly criticize American foreign policy than "spy" on its behalf, as the Iranians alleged.

"Sarah, Josh, and I oppose U.S. policies toward Iran which perpetuate this hostility," Bauer said.

Even if he's not thrilled with everything America does to Iran, Bauer acknowledged that he's happy to leave the latter for the former, with all of its comforts.

"We want more than anything," he said, "to begin our lives anew, and with a new appreciation for the sweet taste of freedom."

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11 comments
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steve
steve

Two years in a stinking Iranian jail, hearing the cries of torture, and they still oppose US policies toward Iran. I guess that University of California education was not all that useful.   

Corgars
Corgars

Shut these two clowns up. They were noboby before they went "hiking" and still are.

Parry Sabahat
Parry Sabahat

how can I get in touch with Sarah, Josh or Shane please give my email address to themparrysabahat@yahoo.com

BoomerSMB
BoomerSMB

Although most in the world would agree that Iran is a "stink hole" controlled by religious fanatics; I have no sympathy for Sarah Shourd, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer.  These college educated people (adults?) amazingly put not only themselves but the United States in a compromising and dangerous situation.  No one is acknowledging who paid the RANSOME for these very stupid people.  I just hope that the citizens of the United States didn't spend their hard earned tax dollars.

Zeroisanumber
Zeroisanumber

They were on the Iraqi side of the border and seized by some bored Iranian border guards.

PJ
PJ

I cant say I feel sorry for the poor hikers being detained. Why would anyone feel that they need to go hiking in a war ravaged country? I do not know much about the three hikers, but I do know that since 1990 any american traveling or living abroad is a target for islamic fundamentalist. what part do they not understand? I guess having an education does not mean you have a bit of common sense. as far as them saying how bad conditions were and that there was nothing they could do for the other prisoners being beaten and tortured, you are the ones that had to do what you did, face the consequences of your ignorant thinking. I would surely like to know who paid the "bail money"! I hope they have learned a valuble lesson in life, one that should stick with them a while! plenty of places to hike in the U.S. that are much safer! 

Zeroisanumber
Zeroisanumber

"I cant say I feel sorry for the poor hikers being detained. Why would anyone feel that they need to go hiking in a war ravaged country? I do not know much about the three hikers, but I do know that since 1990 any american traveling or living abroad is a target for islamic fundamentalist. what part do they not understand?"

That part of Iraq wasn't ravaged by war, and the Islamists who live in Iraqi Kurdistan are rather fond of Americans owing to the fact that we kept Saddam Hussein from slaughtering them after 1991 and equipped and trained their paramilitaries thereafter so that they could keep their freedom.

PJ
PJ

So there may be a few who do not feel that Americans are infidels, but for the most part I feel that, this part of the world, has no love for Americans. I can't say I support all of our political policies either, but that is the way it goes. I love America and do not plan on traveling to places where I am more than likely to become a target. As far as them liking us because we supplied them with arms and training, sounds a lot like the Mujahadeen, Who had a very prominent and US friendly leader at one time. I believe we killed him on May 5th, 2011. It seems loyalty is for sale in Iraq and Afganistan, an age old method of making money.

Mn Voter
Mn Voter

I still want to know what these three were doing in war torn Iraq close to Iran's border? It doesn't make any sense unless they were looking for trouble. Why did the state department let them go into a war zone in Iraq in the first place - anywhere near Iran? Who paid for their trip in the first place? There are still many unanswered questions from these three?I also thought we didn't pay for hostages?

Zeroisanumber
Zeroisanumber

"I still want to know what these three were doing in war torn Iraq close to Iran's border? It doesn't make any sense unless they were looking for trouble."

It was a well-marked hiking trail near the Ahmed Awa waterfall. Subsequent investigation by the US Military concluded that the trio had been on the Iraqi side of the border when they were taken.

"Why did the state department let them go into a war zone in Iraq in the first place - anywhere near Iran?"

They were staying in Iraqi Kurdistan, located in northern Iraq. That area had been peaceful and stable for a decade or more due to the well-established Kurdish peshmerga troops and the UN-enforced "no-fly zone" leftover from the 1991 Gulf War. It was stable and mostly free of violence after the 2003 war.

"Who paid for their trip in the first place?"

They did.

"There are still many unanswered questions from these three?"

What questions are those?

"I also thought we didn't pay for hostages?"

Rumor has it that either George Soros or Warren Buffet fronted the money.

vitajex
vitajex

Apparently, these guys don't understand the world the way people like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry do:

When we do it, it's okay, because we are right and just and God is on our side.When they do it, it's evil, because their god is false.

Geez, it's not rocket surgery!

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