Iran Held Us Because of Nationality, Not Actions

Posted September 25th, 2011 at 5:51 pm (UTC-5)
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Two American hikers imprisoned two years ago in Iran on charges of espionage say they were held because they are Americans, not because they did anything wrong.

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who were arrested with their friend Sarah Shourd while hiking along the Iraq-Iran border in July 2009 — were freed Wednesday after Oman arranged for the payment to Iran of a $1 million bail. Shourd was released on $500,000 bail a year ago.

At a news conference in New York Sunday, Fattal and Bauer said they were held “hostage” because of Iran's “political disputes with the U.S.”

Fatal said he and Bauer were held in almost complete isolation during their captivity. He said they often had to go on a hunger strike just to receive letters from their loved ones. Many times, he said, they “heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten.” But he did not say they suffered the same fate.

Bauer urged Iran to free all “prisoners of conscience,” but he also criticized U.S. policies toward Iran which, he said, perpetuate the Iranian hostilities.

Bauer and Fattal's release coincided with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. He described the release as a humanitarian gesture.