MoJo Writer Still Imprisoned In Iran, One Hiker to Be Released

Photo: Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd

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More than a year after Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal were arrested while hiking in the region between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran, Iranian officials now say they will release one of the American hikers on Saturday in honor of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

Reports CBS News (AP):

The Culture Ministry sent a text message to reporters telling them to come to a Tehran hotel to witness the release. It is the same hotel where the three were allowed the only meeting with their mothers since they were detained in July 2009…

It did not say which one would be released. But Sarah Shourd, 31, has told her mother she has serious medical problems.

Shourd’s mother said her daughter told her in a telephone call in August that prison officials have denied her requests for medical treatment. The mother said they talked about her daughter’s medical problems, including a breast lump and precancerous cervical cells, and her solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin prison.

But if clemency is the goal, why not release all three immediately?

As Mother Jones coeditors Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery have noted, the three hikers were not spies, as Iran has alleged (so far without pursuing the charge in its own courts):

Bauer is a talented, muckraking journalist whose most recent story for Mother Jones looked at how the US government was using construction and other contracts to pay off corrupt ex-warlords in Iraq. (He also worked with the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and New America Media.) Shourd—who became engaged to Bauer while in prison in Iran—was teaching English to Iraqi kids in Damascus, where she lived with Bauer prior to their arrest. Fattal had worked at a sustainability center in Oregon and taught overseas. All of them have been held in near-isolation (Shourd is being held by herself, while the two men share a cell), without access to the Iranian lawyer their family has hired to them or the rest of the outside world. Their only contact with their families came in May, when the mothers were allowed to visit; both Shourd and Bauer have reportedly struggled with illness while in prison.

It’s no surprise that the three are being used as pawns by the Iranian government—that’s a trick just about every country has used. But a year is enough, especially for three people who have committed no offense except being insufficiently paranoid in exploring a tourist region world-renowned for its beauty. Nothing good can come from their languishing behind bars, whereas once released, they would likely go back to their work for truth and human rights. We hope that day comes soon.

You can follow the Free the Hikers campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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