Freed In Iran: U.S. Hikers Urge Freedom for All Political Prisoners
After more than two years spent in an Iranian prison on allegations of spying and trespassing, American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were released yesterday. After a week of conflicting statements from the Iranian judiciary and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the pair were finally granted bail and handed over to Swiss diplomats. They were taken to Oman where they were joyfully reunited with their families. In a brief press conference in Iran, Bauer said, "Two years in prison is too long and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran." President Obama welcomed the news and thanked the leaders of Oman and Iraq, who helped to negotiate the hikers’ release, as well as the Swiss government, whose embassy in Tehran looks after American interests there. Some analysts have speculated that Ahmadinejad wished to project a magnanimous image as he takes to the world stage today in his address to the United Nations General Assembly. In July 2009, Bauer and Fattal were arrested along with Sarah Shourd, while hiking near the Iran-Iraq border. Bauer is a freelance journalist who has contributed to Democracy Now! and other media outlets. Fattal is an environmental activist. Shourd was released last year. Joining us today is the the American friend who was with them on their vacation in Iraq. Shon Meckfessel says he was not feeling well the morning of the hike, so he stayed behind at their hotel. On the morning of July 31, he set out to join them near a waterfall, when Shane telephoned him to say that they had been detained. Now, more than two years later, his friends have finally been released.