Iran Must Free Josh and Shane Now

CNN has a report on the situation of two American hikers kidnapped by Iran, who are being held on false charges of crossing the Iranian border (they were on the side of Iraqi Kurdistan).

The Iranian judiciary has postponed the trial until February 18, 2011. Sarah Shourd, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were kidnapped by Iranian security forces who raided over into Iraq to grab the three on July 31, 2009. (Shourd was released in September on bail).

Presumably they were seized by Iran as a way of taking revenge on the US military, which has made a number of raids on US allies such as the Kurds in Irbil or the al-Hakim compound in Baghdad in which they kidnapped Iranian guests of these Iraqi politicans. The US charged that the Iranians thus grabbed were intelligence agents.

It isn’t fair that these innocent young people be made scapegoats for US-Iranian tensions. Hostage-taking is a serious abuse of human rights. This was the second Thanksgiving that Josh and Shane spent away from their families.

The CNN report:

It should not be thought that the Iranian authorities are completely beyond caring about world public opinion, and it is worthwhile writing them to ask for freedom for Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer. Iranians have indicated in opinion polls that they want to hear more from Americans, but they can hardly expect us to visit in any numbers if they are going to go all paranoid and arrest ordinary people for hiking near their border.

Here is the contact information provided by Amnesty International (it is important to be polite in order to get a hearing):

Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
via this website (English)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani

Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran, 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: Via this website:
First starred box: your given name; second starred box: your family name; third: your email address
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:
Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran
His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani

Bureau of International Affairs, Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: + 98 21 5 537 8827

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Responses | Print |

6 Responses

  1. Dear Prof. Cole,

    Many thanks for posting the Iranian websites for sending appeals regarding Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer. I wasn’t able to find the email page on the website for the head of the judiciary (everything is in Farsi). Would you mind posting the direct link to the email page? Thanks.

  2. If you read the wikileaks document carefully, you see that the military does not actually know where the hostages were taken. They arrived at the scene after the event, and in the report they state that “local witnesses” told them the “hikers” were on the Iraq side.

    The really important fact gleaned from the wikileaks document is that the military were in no doubt that the “hikers” had gone there with the specific aim of generating an event and publicity; they were not innocent hikers at all.

  3. So in Febuary they will be put on trial. Who can say that they will get an unfair trial. Then who can say they will get a fair trial. What I say is that if they are found innocent they should be released. Is there any doubt that if they are found innoccent they will be released?
    Do Iranians recognize such a thing as a mistrial? I mean could it be like a LT. Watada trial where the defense kicks the governments ass but to aviod imbarresment the government declares a mistrial so that it can keep the case going and the accussed in a legal limbo for an even longer period of time?
    Does the Iranian legal system totally ignore its own laws like the US does?
    We give reenlistment bonuses to war criminals and put defenders of the Constitution in Prison. It would not surprise me if the Iranians do the same. After all what type of role models do they have to learn from?

  4. “Iranians have indicated in opinion polls that they want to hear more from Americans, but they can hardly expect us to visit in any numbers if they are going to go all paranoid and arrest ordinary people for hiking near their border.”

    – Americans visiting Iran are not usually avid Fox News listeners. As for hiking near the Iranian border, one could contend that anyone hiking near this border, thanks to the devastation created by the US military and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, needs to have his/her head examined. The well-informed know that Iran is used as a major drug smuggling route from the East at least. Assuming the US citizens arrested weren’t simply kidnapped while they were truly hiking on the Iraqi side, it doesn’t require a create stretch of the imagination to realize that the Iranian authorities could easily be alarmed and would take action.

    The Israeli military would shoot such offenders, innocent or otherwise.

    As far as I can remember, the US military raided the Iranian ‘consulate’ in Kurdistan and kidnapped several Iranian officials.(link to And they were kept for a couple of Noroozes from their families. I can’t recall reading about any big outcry in the West to release the Iranians.

    Does that justify Iran’s actions? Not necessarily. But at the same time, the real facts are not known. How would the US respond nowadays if Iran took US diplomats hostage? The third Persian Gulf war might easily begin.

    “It isn’t fair that these innocent young people be made scapegoats for US-Iranian tensions.” – With all due respect, in the treacherous and bloody history of US-Iranian tensions, speaking of fairness is somewhat naive, wouldn’t you agree?

    • “The Israeli military would shoot such intruders, innocent or otherwise.”
      “Well said Maziar”
      Well said? Does this statement of Maziar not indicate the least bit of bias? The left is now the new far right.

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