Tehran’s American Hostages


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Iran imprisoned three American hikers in July 2009 for crossing into the country, releasing one for health reasons in September after being paid a $500,000 bail. Now, the remaining two have been sentenced to eight years in prison for allegedly being American spies. There is speculation that they will be released at the end of Ramadan, which will be predictably touted by the regime as proof of its good will and mercy. If they are not, Iran must be warned that the U.S. will not look the other way as its innocent citizens are imprisoned.

The three victims are Josh Fattal, an environmental and health activist; Shane Bauer, a freelance journalist; and Sarah Shourd, an English teacher for Iraqi refugees in Damascus and Bauer’s fiancé. They are 28, 29 and 32 years old, respectively. These young adventurers are admirable citizens, seeking to make a career out of helping others around the world. In the summer of 2009, they took a trip together to Iraqi Kurdistan to go hiking and see the country’s beautiful mountainous region.

The group was not on an ill-advised trip to a danger zone. Thousands of tourists visit the beautiful and peaceful area every year, including friends of the three. Kurdistan is a bright spot in Iraq, enjoying economic prosperity, relative stability and democracy since being protected from Saddam Hussein. The Kurdish Regional Government proudly boasts that no American has been attacked in the region. Fattal, Bauer and Shourd had no reason to expect what would happen to them.

On July 31, 2009, the three walked off of a path near a waterfall and soon found themselves being held by Iranian police for crossing into their country. The Americans begged for their lives when their captors cocked their weapons, leading them to believe they were about to be executed. They were brought to Evin Prison, known as a torture house for its treatment of the Iranian regime’s worst enemies. The regime’s interrogators act on the most horrifying impulses in mankind, using every method to break the will of the imprisoned.

It was seven months before Shourd was permitted to call her family. Fattal and Bauer have only been allowed three phone calls so far. When the group’s mothers visited them in May 2010, their visit was limited to two days. Shourd bravely went on a hunger strike to protest their treatment. Her captors offered to release her if she admitted to being a U.S. spy, and warned her she’d lose her life if she spoke about what went on inside Evin Prison. One of the guards said he’d personally sign her death warrant. She was ultimately released in September 2010 for medical reasons after having a $500,000 bail posted for her.

When Shourd came back home, she said that her male companions had been beaten. Fattal took more food that he was permitted, and was thrown down the stairs as punishment. In another incident, Bauer was thrown into the wall of his jail cell until his head started bleeding.

“I can see them in their cramped little cell with very little sunlight and they only get out an hour a day and, you know, they exercise side by side on a space like the size of a towel,” Shourd said.

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  • Shmuel Kahn

    You fail to mention that all three of the "victims" are long time anti-Israel extremists and "solidarity" cheerleaders for Palestinian terrorism. They are anti-American radical leftists. Their being grabbed and jailed by Iran is delicious comeuppance and poetic justice. I suggest we all urge Iran to keep them in prison.

    • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

      Why don’t you go to Iran and urge that?

  • Michael

    I know they were lefty activists who put themselves in danger, but they're still Americans who committed no real crime. I'd like to see them come back home.

    • nina

      Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    Everybody with an agenda wants to say these ADULTS are kids, Mossad, communists or what have you. The only available facts are that they were activists. Maybe dopey activists with no orienteering skills. If it’s a cover, then it’s a pretty bad cover because they got caught and none of them blend in, and only one of them speaks fluent Arabic. It’s easy to be cynical. It’s even easier to caw like a crow in the fringes calling for their death and dismemberment. Shmuel disgusts me. He is a caricature of these skinny, protein deficient guys in black wool coats and fedoras with long beards and high pitched voices wagging their fingers like analogues to clerics in caftans. It must be terrible to go through life heckling from the rafters.

    • mah29001

      Noam Chomsky was one of their biggest supporters to retrieve a "Get out of jail free" I hardly see them to be the kind to be Mossad agents. A Mossad agent wouldn't be that stupid.

    • MixMChess

      "Shmuel disgusts me. He is a caricature of these skinny, protein deficient guys in black wool coats and fedoras with long beards and high pitched voices wagging their fingers like analogues to clerics in caftans."

      Glad you brought out the antisemetic caricature and revealed your true colors. Isn't there a KKK meeting your late for?

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        There are YouTube videos of the people I mention running around calling people the n- word, harassing Christians and Messianic Jews, getting all up in their faces, taunting in high pitched voices and using profanity. There are others assaulting people, telling people not to film them while they say Israel is their country, go home or they will kill them, etc. It has nothing to do with the KKK unless you want to compare these angry Jewish mobs to the KKK.

  • BS77

    Berkeley leftist "activists" might have a changed outlook after this….Israel is NOT the problem in the middle east.

  • Shmuel Kahn

    SHmuel is not religious at all. Flipside however is a horse's patoot

    • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

      So you’re just being “ethnically” obnoxious?

      • Shmuel Kahn

        No your momma is

      • nina

        Who is this creature?

  • SAM000

    The writer of this article is thinking and analyzing and writing like an stupid and cowardice lefty.
    To release these Americans from the Mullahs jail, you need only one word,
    You put an ultimatum to the MULLAHS by saying " You the WORMS, you have till yesterday to release them, if not, the place of your Supreme SH***T leader will be bombed to dust",
    They will release your hostages before yesterday with money and excuse.

    I'm Iranian, I know how the Mullahs think.

    With your OBAMA and Hilary, 8 years of torture is a gift for the HOSTAGES.

  • Raymond in DC

    It's one thing to wish for their deserved release. It's quite another to expend diplomatic capital or offer concessions to their captors on their behalf. I don't care if Iraqi Kurdistan is "safe", wandering anywhere near Iran was foolish. The same goes for those lefties who hitchhiked near the borders of North Korea.

  • g_jochnowitz

    Iran is calling, once again, for the destruction of Israel. http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/ahmadinej
    Maybe Ahmadinejad feels he needs to prove his anti-Zionist credentials before freeing innocent American citizens–even if they happen to hate Israel as much as he does. Hating Israel does not excuse one for being American.

  • SAM000

    The Mullahs are Hostage takers from 1979.
    USA is Hostage giver from 1979.

    Why are you so confused, this is a BUSINESS, your Carter and your Reagan were the first who suggested to pay for the Hostages of US Embassy of Tehran,
    You, yourself have offered the payment and incentives for the HOSTAGE TAKERS, this is your favorite business! why are you so upset?!!

  • Beatrix

    Sam000:

    Wrong, wrong, wrong!

    Carter begged and bribed. The day Reagan took office, the hostage takers freed the hostages without Reagan having to do a thing.

    Later, Reagan made deals with the Iranians to arm the Contras, which the American Congress wouldn't do. But this had nothing to do with the hostages.

    I liked your earlier comment, though, and gave you a plus.

    • SAM000

      Beatrix;

      Reagan did worse, Reagan withdrawed US forces from Lebanon after the bombing of the US soldiers settlement, and sent COLT, CAKE and Qoran to khomeini with Colonel Oliver north.

      Do you know what does it mean COLT and CAKE and Qoran In Barbaric language?

      Beatrix; I have my family murdered by the Mullahs,
      USA is committed for the security of the Mullahs Regime, Reagan and Carter have signed a commitment with the ISLAMIC REPUBLIC of the Satanic Mullahs (Pact of Algeria) to protect the regime of the Mullahs by USA.

      Beatrix, according this pact everybody who Resists against the Mullahs is labeled terrorist by the USA.

      I have many many friends who were executed because the Mullahs claim that (EVEN THE GREAT SATAN CONSIDERS THOSE VICTIMS TERRORIST).

      I know the characteristics of the Mullahs,
      The Mullahs take your incentives and your appeasement for your weakness, this is the only reason that your poor hostages get 8 years of jail.

      Obama knows it, Hilary knows it, but they continue to appease the Mullahs.
      What is the signification of ULTRA CORRUPTED for you the Americans, these people are payed, the Mullahs buys them, for a handful of petrodollars.

  • tarleton

    These ''kids'' are typical Left leaning enviro twits who went ''hiking '' on the Iranian border !…….they are precisely the same types who try to romanticise and ''befriend'' dangerous animals like wolves and bears and then get eaten for their troubles

    They are so emblomatic of the affluence/foolishness and decline of the West

  • Beatrix

    Sam000:

    It's true that England and America helped to overthrow the democratically elected Modaddegh in 1953 (almost 60 years ago) and install the Shah in order to retain access to Iranian oil. But we had nothing to do with the installation of Khomeini, or with the current mullahs or Ahmadinejad who remain America's intractable enemies because we supported the Shah. Israel is not a bastion of Western imperialism, and Western powers no longer control the Mideast.

    That's the problem in the Mideast, the people are still fighting colonial power, which no longer exists, and Israel, established by a Western UN has become the surrogate. You should have fought against colonialism at the time, but you didn't, and now you're sacrificing your future to fight a battle that belongs to the past.

    • SAM000

      Beatrix;

      we are fighting a barbaric pre-historic anti-human regime;

      We the Iranian people, we have no problem with Israel, The Iranian Jews are the oldest Iranians, they deserve more patriotic sympathy, the Iranian Jews are in IRAN from the time of Kourosh Le Grand from 549 BJC.
      We have the Problem with the Mullahs,
      USA protects the Mullahs, the Main Iranian opposition and Iranian Resistance is in the USA terrorist list, this is the best gift to the Mullahs.
      And USA backs the Mullahs on human rights abuse.

      If USA removes his support from the Mullahs, we can overthrow the Regime in less than 2 months without any foreign military assistance.

  • nina

    Israel was not established by a western UN. The Jews were there, and building their country. The UN only recognized it .

  • SAM000

    Thank you so very much, your words comes from our heart.