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In First Interview Since Critical Injury at West Bank Protest, U.S. Peace Activist Tristan Anderson Urges Iran to Free Jailed Hikers

The U.S. peace activist Tristan Anderson has given his first interview since being critically injured when Israeli soldiers fired a high-velocity tear gas canister directly at his head in 2009. Anderson was taking part in a weekly nonviolent protest against Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank. On Sunday, he helped unfurl a banner calling for the release of his friends Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two U.S. hikers who remain imprisoned in Iran. Anderson and the freed American hiker Sarah Shourd also sat down for a joint interview.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. peace activist Tristan Anderson has given his first interview since being critically injured when Israeli soldiers fired a high-velocity tear gas canister directly at his head in 2009. Anderson was shot while taking part in a weekly nonviolent protest against Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin. The shooting caused severe traumatic brain injury and blindness in his right eye. Anderson returned home to California earlier this year.

On Sunday, he helped unfurl a banner calling for the release of his friends Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two American hikers who remain in prison in Iran. Bauer had visited Anderson in Israel just weeks before Bauer, Fattal and Sarah Shourd were arrested near the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009. Sarah Shourd was freed after more than a year in an Iranian prison in September.

On Sunday, Tristan Anderson and Sarah Shourd sat down for a joint interview.

TRISTAN ANDERSON: While I was visiting Israel and Palestine, well, it became kind of dramatic, because I was at a protest against the apartheid wall the Israelis are constructing in Palestine. And the Israeli border police came, and they shot a high-velocity tear gas grenade, and it hit me in the forehead, knocked me unconscious and caused brain damage. So I’ve had kind of a different life since then.

SARAH SHOURD: The last time that Shane, my fiancé, and I saw Tristan was when he was in the hospital in Tel Aviv. And that’s the only time that I went to Israel-Palestine, was to see Tristan in the hospital, and with Shane. And my mother was there, as well. We came from Damascus, Syria, where Shane and I had been living for over a year. And I am particularly grateful to be sitting here today with Tristan, because when I was in prison, I didn’t know what had happened to Tristan. I didn’t have any information about his well-being. And one of the things that I was very grateful to know upon my release was that Tristan was back home, that he had gotten home before I did, and that he was undergoing therapy, physical therapy—right?—and getting back into, you know, his life, and getting—be able to do the things that he loves again.

Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer, Tristan Anderson and I are peace activists. I believe in my heart that the prolonged detention of my fiancé and my friend and my detention has been a huge misunderstanding. And Tristan and I are here today to ask the Iranian leaders and the Iranian authorities to find the mercy and compassion that you showed me for Shane and Josh, to release them, to bring them home. Tristan and I are home, but we can’t enjoy being home fully until Shane and Josh are with us. We’re all waiting for that day, and we need that day to come soon.

TRISTAN ANDERSON: I know we often say that people are innocent when we want them released, regardless of the actual facts of the case. But in the case of Shane and Josh, I think there’s no facts that even indicate they could be guilty of anything. So please release them.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Tristan Anderson and Sarah Shourd. Sarah Shourd was just released from an Iranian prison. She, together with Tristan Anderson, is pushing for the release of her fiancé Shane Bauer and her friend Josh Fattal. Tristan Anderson was critically injured when Israeli soldiers fired a high-velocity tear gas canister directly at his head in 2009. He had been taking part in a weekly nonviolent protest against Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin. Sarah and Josh—Sarah and Shane Bauer had just visited Tristan in the hospital in Israel before they were taken by Iranian soldiers to prison.

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