Saturday, September 24, 2011

Freed in Iran: U.S. Hikers Urge Freedom for All Political Prisoners

Sept. 22, 2011 Democracy Now

After more than two years spent in an Iranian prison on allegations of
spying and trespassing, American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were
released yesterday.

After a week of conflicting statements from the Iranian judiciary and
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the pair were finally granted bail
and handed over to Swiss diplomats. They were taken to Oman, where they
were joyfully reunited with their families.

In a brief press conference in Iran, Bauer said, "Two years in prison is
too long, and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political
prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran."

President Obama welcomed the news and thanked the leaders of Oman and
Iraq, who helped to negotiate the hikers’ release, as well as the Swiss
government, whose embassy in Tehran looks after American interests there.
Some analysts have speculated that Ahmadinejad wished to project a
magnanimous image as he takes to the world stage today in his address to
the United Nations General Assembly.

In July 2009, Bauer and Fattal were arrested, along with Sarah Shourd,
while hiking near the Iran-Iraq border. Bauer is a freelance journalist
who has contributed to Democracy Now! and other media outlets. Fattal is
an environmental activist. Shourd was released last year.

Joining us today is their American friend who was with them on their
vacation in Iraq. Shon Meckfessel says he was not feeling well the morning
of the hike, so he stayed behind at their hotel. On the morning of July
31, he set out to join them near a waterfall, when Shane telephoned him to
say that they had been detained. Now, more than two years later, his
friends have finally been released.

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