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Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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IRAN: Judiciary announces second session for American hikers' trial

Shafeii Two Americans held in Iran on charges of espionage and trespassing will stand before an Iranian court for the second time, on May 11, but their lawyer says he has been barred from meeting his clients since the trial opened Feb. 6.

Masoud Shafeii told Babylon & Beyond last month that he would quit the case in protest unless he was granted access to Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer. He confirmed on Sunday that he still has not seen his clients.

The two Americans were arrested along with a third companion, Sarah Shourd, in a border area between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan in June 2009 and charged with spying and illegally entering the country.

Shourd, who has since been released and returned to the United States, has said in interviews that the three were hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan when a group of Iranian soldiers waved them over onto the Iranian side.

Bauer and Fattal are due to appear once again before Judge Abolqasem Salavati, a notoriously strict judge who has been dubbed the "hanging judge" by opposition and human-rights activists.

--Los Angeles Times

Photo: Masoud Shafii, the Iranian lawyer for the American hikers, has been barred from seeing his clients in jail. Credit: Morteza Nikoubazl / Reuters

Comments () | Archives (3)

As long as we have Iranians in jail here, which we kidnapped from overseas, places such as Azerbaijan, Russian Georgia and Turkey, then why should Iran release these three whom walked in to Iran on their own will?
Why would any American Jew in their right mind get a tourist visa to go to Iraq, NOW, in the middle of war and Anti American season and then walk miles on foot to go across the boarder to another Muslim country, which we currently have no relationship with? I even give them the excuse that they were lost or their guide did not know where they were, if they had one or the benefit of the doubt that they even were not in Iran and the Iranians saw American are coming or just smelled them!! May be these guys wanted to convert to Islam? Has anyone thought of asking them that?! That should take them off the hook. I think they should.

We just can't blame Iran for everything every day. It is getting a bit monotonous.
Give me a break, please.

Kooka, you have no idea what you are talking about. These three Americans were teachers and humanitarians working to help people in the Middle East. They went hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan, the safest part of Iraq that currently encourages foreign tourism, and were approached by Iranian officials near a mountainous, unmarked border. Please do not espouse judgments about something that you quite clearly haven't researched thoroughly. Remember what happens when you make an assumption...

It would be great if other danger junkies planning idiotic trips learn from this.

I would be fascinated to know what led to them selecting that particular area to hike in. Apart from the heady feeling that as westerners, the world is there for them to do what they feel like doing, whatever.

I would also like to know:

1) whether they consulted the State Dept's travel advisory for that part of the world (or the British, Canadian, Swedish or German equivalents). But maybe they did, and found the warnings further enticement to go there.

2) if there is anything that suggests this region held special appeal for adventure travellers in the pre-danger era. There are similar landscapes in other remote locations in the Middle East where they could hike without risking trouble.

If they expect to world to care what happens to them they better come up with a good explanation or offer an abject admission of fault.


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