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.
Amnesty International and other organizations have harshly—and rightly—criticized Iran’s egregious human rights violations. However it is truly a cause for celebration when the Iranian authorities decide to take the high road on human rights, and these actions must be recognized and welcomed. In fact we are doubly grateful that in the past couple of days the Iranian government has released on bail both American hiker Sarah Shourd as well as prominent human rights attorney Shiva Nazar Ahari. These humanitarian gestures were performed at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, to mark the Muslim holiday ‘Eid al Fitr, a time when acts of clemency and mercy are traditionally performed. Iranian Authorities have also cited Ms Shourd’s health problems as grounds for the decision to grant her release.
Sarah Shourd had been arrested along with her friends Shane Michael Bauer and Joshua Fattal while they were hiking in the Iraq-Iran border area on 31 July 2009 and they had been detained since then in Evin Prison in Tehran. Iranian officials have alleged that the three U.S. citizens planned to carry out espionage. Amnesty International recognizes that all nations have a right to secure their borders and to ensure that foreign nationals with hostile intent do not threaten their citizens or perform criminal acts in their territory. However, the three U.S. hikers were held without charge or trial for over one year and not one shred of evidence has ever been produced against them. At the time Amnesty International released its 30 July 2010 statement calling for their release if they were not to be charged with a recognizable criminal offense, one entire year had gone by—more than enough time for the Iranian government to present any evidence it may have held against them.