Local / U.S. / World
American Hikers Finally Freed
Aileen Evans - October 12, 2011
Three Americans detained in Iran, one for one year and the other two for two years.
On July 31, 2009 Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Joshua Fattal were imprisoned by Iranian soliders and accused of spying. Sarah was in Iraq to teach English, Shane was there because he was a photo journalist working in Iraq. Sarah and Shane were dating for a long time before they were captured.
They both invited their friend Josh to Iraq to see what was going on there. Sarah, Shane, and Josh were known for their compassion for others and for their mission to stop the war in Iraq. Sarah has helped people all over, she has done work in Iraq, Mexico and in New Orleans following hurricane Katrina. Josh has also done work in many places like Iraq, South Africa, and India. Shane is a photo journalist, and filmmaker.
When Josh was in Iraq visiting Sarah and Shane, they wanted to go on a vacation. Sarah had a week off and Shane had just finished a story so they went on a trip to Iraqi Kurdistan. Iraqi Kurdistan was known for safe tourism. They were all very safe travelers and thought the place was safe.
They explored the city and then wanted to go somewhere to hike. The three of them asked the hotel staff for a good place to hike and they recommended Ahmed. Ahmed was a great place to hike, it was family friendly and safe, it also had a beautiful waterfall. The day before they left Sarah e-mailed her mom reassuring her that Ahmed was a safe place, it was pro-American since 1991 and no American has been hurt there.
Sarah, Shane, and Josh traveled there to find hundreds of people. There were small restaurants and families camping out, they hung out at the waterfall and the next morning woke up early to go hiking. They asked a tea salesmen which trail was the safest. He pointed them to one and they took this trail. They asked if it was safe and he reiterated that this was a very safe trail.
After they were on the trail for several hours they were going to head back. But when they started to head back they noticed a solider 300 yards above them. They also noticed that he was holding a big gun. This solider motioned with his arm for them to go further down the trail. They did so thinking that it was just an Iraqi solider and they didn't do anything wrong so they were fine.
They went further down the trail to find another solider, this solider was motioning to come to him. This is when they left the trail and walked to the second solider. When they got to the solider he pointed to the ground and said "Iran" and then pointed to the trail they just were on and said "Iraq".
So according to that solider Sarah, Shane, and Josh did not enter Iran until the solider told them to. This is when the three of them started to get worried. They wanted to go back to the trail but the solider would not let them. The solider lead them away from the waterfall and further into Iran and they met up with a big group of soldiers.
The soldiers took all of their things and only one of them spoke a little big of English. Shane also knew some Arabic so he tried to talk to them. Shane explained that they were just at the waterfall and they needed to get back, but the soldiers wouldn't listen. Shane did convince the soldiers to allow them to make a phone call. The three hikers choose to call their friend. The friend called the American Embassy of Baghdad.
On the fourth day Sarah, Shane and Josh were taken to Evin Prison, when they got there the soldiers told them that they were going to go on a plane that will take them home. The three of them were blindfolded, separated and put in three different jail cells.
Sarah said that she cried and screamed all night and she lived in the cell for the next month. Sarah also said that the soldiers would have her write pages and pages of her teaching and then they would rip it up and she would have to write it again. They looked through her e-mails, her blogs, and her Skype account. But they didn't find anything and it was clear that she wasn't a spy.
In the second month Sarah was taken out of her cell to see Shane and Josh. The soldiers told them that they were going to be let free, they were blindfolded and put in a car and they were driven two blocks deeper into the prison and put back into cells. Sarah was put in her own and Shane and Josh shared one. They were allowed to share meals together but were blindfolded.
In the third month they saw even more of each other, it was half an hour every two days but after they begged for more time, it was increased to half an hour every day.
On January 6th, the tenth month, Shane asked Josh to stay in the cell so Shane could talk to Sarah alone. Shane asked Sarah to marry him with an engagement ring made from the a string from his shirt. Sarah said yes and they agreed that Josh would be their best man. In this dark time this was one thing that kept them hoping for the future.
Sarah was freed on September 14, 2010 on humanitarian grounds after 410 days in prison. When Sarah told Shane and Josh that she was going to be freed Josh said that he now feels one third free, Sarah replied saying that she also only feels one third free.
Shane and Josh were taken to trial and charged with illegal entry and espionage. They were both sentenced to eight years in prison but were released on September 21, 2011. They both had a bail of 5 billion rial ($465,000). The bail was paid by an anonymous donor. They spent two years in prison. Iranians claimed that Sarah, Shane, and Josh were spies, but did not have any evidence.
Copyright © The Word
- Grandview Heights High School - Journalism
Adviser - Mark Johnson - firstname.lastname@example.org