American Hikers Released from Iran
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the release of the last two American hikers, Shane Bauer and Joshua Felix Fattal from Iran
Two American hikers were released in Iran Wednesday morning, cleared of their convictions of illegally entering Iran as spies. Swiss and Omani officials are to receive the American hikers, acting on part of the United States, as there is no American embassy in Iran.
Back in July 2009, Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd set out on an expedition that took them along the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. The three American hikers misjudged their whereabouts and strayed over an unmarked border between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran, leading to their capture and retention under Iranian law. Captured below is a map detailing the distance between the Kurdistan Province of Iraq and the location of Iran’s nuclear power plant in Tehran.
Unfortunately the American hikers, July 2009 was a bad time to explore the Middle East with the completion of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant scheduled for the end of that summer. In February of 2009 accusations surrounding Iran’s intentions towards the Bushehr nuclear “power” plant in Tehran exploded. Press interviews from the International Herald Tribune, with Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) painted him as pro-Iranian.
“He is the former Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where his primary legacy was running interference for Iran and ensuring that Iran is now on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. Year-after-year for a decade, ElBaradei used his position at the IAEA to stall for time on behalf of Iran.” The Danger of ElBaradei
Were the intentions of the three American hikers to act as spies for the United States and further delay the opening of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Tehran? After 12 years of service ElBaradei announced he would be stepping down position as head of the IAEA on November 27th of 2009. Perhaps the American hikers had no knowledge of the Iranian nuclear power plant, Bushehr, however when you take a look at their backgrounds, the story and the entire situation surrounding the history of the nuclear power plant Bushehr, things certainly become interesting.
All three American hikers graduated from the University of California Berkeley. In a press release from UC Berkeley’s Media Relations just days after their capture, the three American hikers were highlighted along with their majors and accomplishments during their time at the university. Bauer took undergraduate courses at the Graduate School of Journalism, where his photographs of the devastation in Darfur won him 2007 Matthew M. Lyon Prize in Photography. Shourd was identified as an aspiring journalist, who had reported for New American Media earlier in 2009 regarding the Golan Heights in Israel. American hikers Bauer and Shourd were known as working journalists in the Middle East and Africa, however it’s the third piece to the puzzle, Joshua Fattal that seems out of place.
Reviewing future paths for Fattal after earning his Bachelors of Science in Environmental Economics and Policy in 2004, it remains unclear exactly what direction he went in The three American hikers were supposed to be accompanied by 36 year old Shon Meckfessell, who took a summer course in Arabic in preparation for the July 31st hike.
Without knowing what proof Iran has detained the two American hikers on for the past two years one cannot fairly say. Arrested by Iranian security forces, the three American hikers claim that they were tricked into advancing over an unmarked border after an Iranian security guard seemed to beckon them in the American gesture of hello. Waving his arm, the three American hikers headed in his direction where shortly thereafter they were arrested and held on charges of espionage.
Shroud was released in September of 2010 on medical grounds according to CNN. Oman, the country who defeated Persian attempts to invade its territory, (Persia now Iran) posted Shroud’s bail of $500,000 according to the NYTimes. CNN’s Live Blog reported eyes on the remaining American hikers at 12:17 PM ET on Wednesday as the convoy of cars carrying Bauer and Fattal were reported at the Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport.
Although to some it may seem that the two remaining American hikers were released as a good gesture during Ramadan, one cannot ignore the coinciding events. On September 12, 2011, Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant officially opened its first reactor, ironically at the same time as New York declared the opening of the World Trade Center memorial to the public.
Just a little over a week after, Bauer and Fattal were released from Iranian custody, perhaps because they no longer posed a threat as agents of information to further delay the opening of Bushehr. Over the past two years, Iran has claimed they have substantial evidence against the three American hikers, however has failed to publically disclose it. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fought hard against the Iranian Judiciary system, sparking rumors of a power struggle, which he quickly extinguished.
As the United States anticipates the arrival of the two American hikers Bauer and Fattal, one thing is certain only they know the truth of why they were there. Bauer and Fattal were sentenced on August 20, 2011 to five years in prison for espionage and an additional three for entering the country illegally. American hikers sentenced to eight years in prison for crossing over an unmarked boundary line and than less than a month later receiving pardon from Iran’s very own President, just 9 days after Bushehr opened its first nuclear reactor? Come on Iran, enough with the lies. Uranium production? Detaining three innocent American hikers and than releasing them 9 days after you open a nuclear power plant you have been trying to get up and running since the 1970’s? With the return of Bauer and Fattal, something tells me the story of the American hikers is not over.
Check out my other article on Tehran and secrets behind Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant: