Iran Held Us Because of Nationality, Not Actions

Posted September 26th, 2011 at 6:05 am (UTC-5)
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Two American hikers released after spending two years in an Iranian prison on charges of espionage say they were held because they are Americans, not because they did anything wrong.

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

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

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 U.N. General Assembly. He described the release as a humanitarian gesture.