American Hikers Sentenced to 8 Years in Iranian Prison

A word to the wise, don’t go hiking in Iran. 

Of course that piece of advice presupposes one knows the mountainous terrain between the Iran-Iraq border and, more specifically, where Iraq ends and where Iran begins. 

Two years ago, three American – Joshua F. Fattal, Shane M. Bauer and Sarah E. Shourd – hikers found out the hard way what happens when one ventures off the beaten path (again, assuming their was a path at all) and accidentally crosses over into the Iranian realm. 

Iranian police nabbed the three in 2009 for “infiltrating” and “spying” on the state. 

Shourd, who suffered from health complications, was released on a $500,000 bail in 2010, but not before she spent 410 days in solitary confinement. 

As for Fattal and Bauer, who’ve been detained since the arrest, they’ve recently heard word through Iranian news channel IRINN, that they’ve been sentenced to serve 5 years in an Iranian prison for “cooperating with the American intelligence service” aka espionage, and 3 years for “illegal entry” – a total of 8 years.  

However, their Iranian attorney could not confirm the sentencing.  He told the Associated Press, “I’ve not been notified of any verdict in the case of my clients, this is a strong verdict inconsistent with the charges.”

Despite strong-worded pleas from the U.S. government, Iran has been obstinate about releasing the two men who have, as mentioned, already served two years.  

“Shane and Josh have been imprisoned too long, and it is time to reunite them with their families.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, “We continue to express our hope that the Iranian authorities will exercise the humanitarian option of releasing these two young men.”

Many believe the two American prisoners give Iran leverage in future negotiations with the U.S. 
“Iranian authorities have ignored repeated appeals from the international community and the men’s families to release them and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has hinted that the hikers were being held as a bargaining chip to be used in Iran’s dealings with the United States” Amnesty International stated last month. 

Regardless of whether or not the sentencing reports are true, one can only hope that in the very near future, or perhaps at the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting next month, serious headway will be made to bring these men home.  They’ve been there two years too long.

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