By: Courtney Harrington
On July 31, 2009, three hikers set off for their climb inNorthern Iraqnot knowing what the day held. Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd had been friends since college and together they planned an adventurous vacation. Shourd and Bauer were living in Syrian, the capital ofDamascus, at the time when Fattal, an environmentalist, made his way to Syrian to visit his two friends.
What the three young adults saw as an adventurous hiking trip, became their worst nightmare. Their plan was to hike the Kurdistan region ofNorthern Iraqto avoid unsafe areas elsewhere around the country. However, only little time had passed before disaster struck for the trio. Iranian authorities took the three captive and accused them of illegally passing theIraqborder intoIranand being American spies. The hikers were detained inIran’s Evin prison ofTehran, a prison known for torturing the inmates.
After a few months had gone by, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested that the hikers be released back to theUnited Stateson “humanitarian and compassionate grounds.”Clintonalso met with the hikers’ families shortly before they spoke out, saying that their loved ones crossed the border by accident. Unfortunately, Iranian officials would not release any information concerning the hikers to the families. “These are our children, and there’s nothing quite as anguishing as thinking about your kids in prison in a country so far away and being unable to help them,” Nora Shourd, Sarah’s mother, stated. With no hope in sight of the hikers returning to theUnited States, Americans took action. The mothers sent letters to the President of Iraq, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, demanding that he free their children. Multiple famous figures such as Muhammad Ali also spoke out on behalf of the three detained hikers. Luckily for Shourd, she was released on a $500,000 bail last year at the age of 32 due to medical concerns.
With Shourd released on bail, the remaining two hikers hope their own releases are in the near future. According to Ahmadinejad, the two men are said to be released in a matter of days. During the hearing for the two hikers, two judges were needed to sign the bail papers for the eight year sentence the two were intended to serve. However, only one judge was present, postponing the final arrangements for the men’s bail.Iran’s foreign minister proceeded to say that the courts were willing to release the men in the “near future.” While the State Department waits for word on the men’s release, the two hikers remain behind bars.