The release of detained American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer by the Iranian government last Wednesday was a rare bit of good news. They have now arrived back in the United States and on Sunday gave their first press conference on US soil.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal at press conference in New York, September 25 (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)
On May 11, Iran is set to resume the flawed trial of two US hikers apparently held for political reasons for nearly two years.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were arrested while hiking in the Iraq-Iran border area in July 2009. The exact circumstances of their arrest are unclear, but Iranian authorities have charged them with espionage and illegal entry.
Iran’s failure to meet international standards for a fair trial for Shane and Josh indicates a political motive in holding them which may amount to hostage-taking.
One year ago a trip turned into a nightmare for 3 young Americans when they were arrested by Iranian forces while hiking in the Iraq-Iran border area. Since then, Shane Michael Bauer, Joshua Felix Fattal and Sarah Emily Shourd, have been held without charge or trial at Tehran’s notorious Elvin Prison in what some suspect is a political ploy.
Though Iranian authorities have alleged that the three planned to carry out “acts of espionage” in Iran, statements by senior Iranian leaders – including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in February 2010 – have suggested that the three may be being detained in order to put pressure on the U.S. government and to extract diplomatic concessions. Just last month The Nationuncovered that the hikers were in fact seized in Iraq and taken forcibly into Iran.
The fact that Shane, Joshua and Sarah remain detained after a year without any charges is very serious. It is apparent that questioning ended several months ago and the failure to charge them has added to the speculation that Iranian authorities may be holding them as a bargaining chip in Iran-U.S. relations. If this is truly the case, then the continuing detention of these three individuals would amount to hostage-taking and be a very serious abuse of human rights.
The hikers have been detained without access to their family-appointed Iranian lawyer or the Swiss embassy officials who represent US consular interests in Iran. Additionally, they have been denied needed medical attention and contact with their families.
The mothers of the hikers recently met with Amnesty International in our UK office to talk about their long and frustrating campaign to bring the hikers home. You can watch the video below.
Amnesty International is demanding that Iranian officials release these three U.S. nationals and allow them to leave Iran unless they are to face recognizable criminal charges and be tried promptly according to recognized international standards for fair trial.
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.