Detained In Iran: American Tourists Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal
With the celebration of the American reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee being pardoned and released just starting, it is important to remember that Ling and Lee were not the only Americans detained across the world. In the last few days three American tourists have been arrested by Iran for illegally entering the country while backpacking through the area. Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal were taken into custody on Friday, July 31, 2009 after traveling in the Kurdish region of Iraq. All three were well seasoned travelers who had been spending a year traveling around the middle East.
They Need Support
Like the situation with Laura Ling and Euna Lee, Bauer, Shourd and Fattal are currently being detained in a rogue state that has no diplomatic ties with the United States. The facts of their detention are currently unclear but what is clear that these three world travelers are not spies for the United States. While crossing into Iran without permission most likely violates some Iranian rule, the Iranian government cannot be allowed to make it something bigger than it was and these three tourists should not be used as pawns in the political game of world power.
The Nation - Artice Written By Shon Meckfessel
The Story - As Told By The 4th Hiker
On July 31, 2009, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal went missing along the Iran/ Iraq border. The trio had been traveling throughout the middle east with a fourth hiker, Shon Meckfessel. The three are currently being held by the Iranian government for illegally entering the country. Shon Meckfessel has written an article in The Nation telling their story.
According to Meckfessel, the four decided to travel from Syria to Kurdistan. They arrived in Sulaimania on July 29 and stayed at the hotel Miwan. They then decided to explore the mountainous terrain and visit a place called Ahmed Awa. They did not realize that Ahmed Awa was near the border with Iran.
Meckfessel got separated from his friends when they left for Ahmed Awa. On July 31 he learned they had been detained by the Iranian border patrol.
Update September 2, 2009
A little over a month has passed since three American tourists were detained in Iran after accidentally crossing over the border. Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal were detained after hiking in Northern Iraq. A fourth friend got separated from the group claims they had no intention of going to Iran.
In the last month, the families have not heard a word about the fate of their loved ones. They are asking for public support to help get them released. Iran now is making overtures with the United States to have bilateral talks about Iran's nuclear programs. Perhaps this will lead to their safe return.
Update September 17, 2009
The families of the missing hikers appeared on the Today Show this morning to raise awareness to this issue. The hikers have now been detained for 48 days. They also stated that they have written a letter to the President of Iran asking him to show the goodness of the Iranian people by bringing the hikers with him when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly next week. NBC's Anne Curry will ask the Iranian President about the fate of the hikers when she interviews him later today. The families have heard nothing about the detained hikers since they were taken at the end of July.
The families have also set up a facebook page and website where they have placed a petition. Please sign the petition.
The facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=119471126959
The Website Page is: http://www.freethehikers.org/
Update September 23, 2009
President Ahmadinejad of Iran told the Associated Press that he will seek "maximum" leniency for the 3 US hikers detained in Iran during the summer. He did not elaborate as to what that means. He also stated that the three broke the law but he would do what he can to expedite the process.
This comes when Iran is making some overtures towards talks about their nuclear talks. The Iranian President is in New York for the UN talks.
Update September 28, 2009
Despite being requesting by the family to bring the missing hikers home when he arrived in New York for the UN meeting, the President of Iran left them behind. On Larry King, President Ahmadinejad said that three had committed a crime but claimed he had little control over the case. However, with renewed tensions over Iran's nuclear plans and Iran's testing of long range missles, it has become even more important to put focus on the issue of the missing hikers.
Some good news though is that Iran has contacted Swiss Officials to allow them to see the missing hikers. This will be the first western contact with the trio since they were detained in July.
The family has set up a website and is trying to sell T-Shirts to bring awareness to this issue. You can get the shirts either at :
Update November 5, 2009
November 8, 2009 marks the 100th day of Detention for the three american hikers detained in Iran. The families and friends are using the occassion to bring more light to the sitation as the media for the most part has ignored this tradegy. Vigils are scheduled around the world in the following locations:
• Philadelphia, PA • Vancouver, Canada
• New York City, NY • Toronto, Canada
• Boston, MA • Shanghai, China
• Cottage Grove, OR • Changsha, China
• Los Angeles, CA • Bangalore, India
• Oakland, CA • Rajpur, India
• Minneapolis, MN • London, UK
• Pine City, MN • Mexico City, Mexico
• Burlington, VT • Cape Town, S. Africa
• Sarasota, FL • Hultsfred, Sweden
• Boulder, CO • Medellin, Colombia
Recent reports have stated that the Swedish Ambassador to Iran has met with the hikers and reported that they are in good health. However, they have still not been allowed to call their families. There are reports today claiming that the families have met with Secretary Clinton about the plight of the hikers.
If you can, please sign the petition to have the hikers released.
Update November 9, 2009
Amid growing tensions between the United States and Iran over Iran's nuclear program, Iran announced today that the three American hikers detained since July will be charged with spying. These allegations come only one day after vigils were held across the world for the hikers' safe return.
Secretary Clinton called for Iran to show compassion and release the hikers. However, it appears that this issue will not end soon.
Update December 9, 2009
Four months ago the three American hikers were taken into custody by Iranian officials allegedly trespassing into Iranian soil. In those four months they have not been allowed to contact their family. They have only been allowed two visits by Swiss officials who report that they are in good health but their incarceration is taking its toll.
The families are asking the Iranian President to make a humanitarian gesture and release the Americans. Their voice hit the US Senate where Senator Al Franken spoke on behalf of the families on the Senate Floor.
If you haven't please sign the Petitions.
Update February 3, 2010
The Three American hikers detained in Iran have been in the news lately. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after stating numerous times that there was nothing he could do to help the hikers, has proposed that he would be willing to exchange the three American hikers for Iranians currently jailed in the United States. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that the United States will not exchange prisoners with Iran and demanded that the three hikers be released.
This all comes while tensions between Iran and the United States grow over Iran's nuclear program and firing of a missile into space over the weekend. The Hikers families are currently very active on Facebook and Twitter and have organized several vigils.
If you haven't, please sign the Petition.
Update March 3, 2010
After not hearing anything from the three hikers detained Iran for seven months, the Iranian government allowed the three hikers to make phone calls home today. A facebook status update was sent by the family saying that they heard from them and were glad to hear from them.
If you haven't please sign the petition or join the facebook group. This phone call may be the first step to finally bringing the three home safely.
Update April 28, 2010
The three American hikers detained in Iran on a baseless charge by the Iranian government that they are spies are still being held in Iran. Despite the Iranian Presidents claims that the three Americans would be afforded a "fair trial" they have not been allowed to meet with their Iranian lawyers. Swiss diplomats have recently seen the hikers and report that Shourd and Bauer are suffering from serious medical problems and depression.
Today, the familes of the detained hikers met with Secretary of State Clinton about the situation. The families have put on added pressure on the Obama Administration to negotiate their release. The President of Iran has requested a visa to attend conferences in New York in May.
If you haven't please sign the petition or join the facebook group to show support to the three hikers.
Update May 17, 2010
The mothers of the three US hikers currently being detained in Iran have been granted Visas by the Iranian government and will leave for Iran on Tuesday. This will be the first time anyone outside of Iranian government officials but the Swiss government will see the hikers since they were detained on the Iranian border last year.
It is also being reported that the Iranian government is willing to release the hikers if the United States releases an Iranian arms dealer from US jails. If you haven't please visit the hikers website or their facebook page to show your support.
Update May 21, 2010
The mothers of the three American hikers deatined in Iran have been able to meet with their children in Iran. Iranian State run television showed the tearful reunion. For the first time since they were detained, the three hikers spoke out about their situation, although they were under guard by Iranian officials. The CNN link is provided.
Hopefull this is the first sign that the three will be released and will be able to go home soon.
September 9, 2010
Today there was some good news from Iran. As an act of clemency to mark the end of Ramadan, Iran has plans to release Sarah Shourd, one of the detained hikers in Iran. This act, which actually has not happened yet, comes in the midst of ever growing tensions between the United States and Iran about Iran's nuclear programs, terrorism and other issues. Hopefully, the reports are correct, and at least one of the hikers will be released.
Update Next Day
Apparently, Iran has changed it mind. The release of Sarah Shourd has been put on hold. Not sure why, but not all that surprised.
Now apparently, Iran will release Sarah Shourd on bail in the amount of $500,000. In my opinion, it is ransom money.
Update September 14, 2010
Some great news: Sarah Shourd has been released. Granted it is on bail, but she has still been released. Now let us not forget the 2 remaining hikers behind bars in Iran.
Update September 21, 2011
The two American hikers left in Iran have just been released. They were released on bond for $1,000,000. Best wishes to them and their families.
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