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Ear to the Ground

Iran Trial Begins for Hikers

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Posted on Feb 6, 2011
Flickr / FreeTheHikers

Trial has begun in Tehran for two of three American hikers accused of espionage after blundering across the border into Iran. The third hiker, Sarah Shourd, was freed on bail last September and is back in the United States. —JCL

Al-Jazeera English:

The trial on Sunday of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, along with that of Sarah Shourd, who was released on $500,000 bail in September, comes 18 months after they were arrested on July 31 2009 near Iran’s border with Iraq.

The three, in their late twenties and early thirties, say they were hiking in the mountains of northern Iraq and crossed the unmarked border by mistake.

Iran held them on suspicion of spying, a crime which can carry the death penalty.

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By magpie, February 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank-you Carl for articulating what I have been thinking (suspecting) every time I’ve heard the story repeated by the media of the innocent “hikers” who inadvertantly crossed the border into Iran.  My own expired passport was stolen several years ago and when I called the passport office to report it; they didn’t really show any concern.  My concern was that
by that time it was ‘an historic document’ that I would have liked to have kept because it had numerous visas from Eastern European countries that I had obtained before the fall of the ‘iron curtain’ and while I was studying in Poland and travelling throughout Eastern Europe. 

East Germany’s borders were especially difficult to
cross.  Based on my own experience,it seems extraordinarily improbable to me that these young people were just hiking in Kurdistan.  Don’t U.S. passports have restrictions on where Americans are allowed to travel ?

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By Leefeller, February 8, 2011 at 6:37 am Link to this comment

It would have been prudent if they had sky delved at night instead of pranced along the Iranian border during day.

I have heard nature trials along the Mexican United States border are really beautiful during the scorching heat of summer, though it seems only Mexican people seem to really appreciate hiking there.

Why does it seem, we only hear about Americans hiking across the North Koran Border and getting caught, what about all those Norwegians we don’t hear about?

What does all this mean? Americans are the only people in the world who go hiking and then get caught?

So the Romans are saying,  when in Iran, do as Americans do?

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By Carl, February 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm Link to this comment

You got it rollzone, lousy reporting. The truth from the G2mil blog:

Sep 20, 2010 - Let’s Hike to Iran!

A great example of our government controlled corporate media is the story of three American “hikers” arrested inside Iran. It widely know that the U.S. government and Israel are hostile to the Iranian government, and have covert programs to spy on Iran and seek ways to destabilize its government. So when three young Americans are caught crossing the Iranian border in a remote area, everyone in the world suspects they are agents up to no good.

Outsiders don’t travel to remote and dangerous Kurdistan to go “hiking”. Quick internet research reveals that all three are Jewish. They don’t have jobs, yet plenty of money to “hike” around the Middle East. They had recently hiked around Syria; recall that Israel bombed a remote building in Syria three years ago where nuclear research was alleged. Finally, a local Kurdish policeman told the world press that he questioned them, and when they said they wanted to hike the mountains along the Iranian border, he told them that was not allowed. He said the border was not marked and was patrolled by the Iranian army, and there are plenty of other nice mountains in Kurdistan that they could enjoy.

It seems they were possibly working for the CIA or Israeli Mossad, attempting to infiltrate Iran from a remote region. They have the ideal cover to perform foot reconnaissance of the region to identify Iranian border outposts and map routes that commandos could use. Perhaps they were challenged to do their part in demonizing Iran by walking into that nation to provoke an incident. Perhaps they were just crazy or insanely curious young people. Note that one of the group declined to take part on that “mission”, which demonstrates they knew it was dangerous and needed someone to call for help should things go wrong. This may have been their tenth “hike” along the border area.

This background is not newsworthy in the USA. Hours are devoted to covering this story, but they are always described as innocent “hikers”, as though thousands of Americans hike along the Iranian border every year—its just like the Alps! No need to confuse the public by noting they are Jewish, had recently traveled to Israel and “hiked” around Syria, have never worked after graduating from college several years ago, or who funds their perpetual odd travels. No, they are just “hikers” dammit, held by evil Iran for doing nothing! Their anti-war backgrounds suggests they are unlikely spies, yet that is the cover the CIA develops for most agents.

Perhaps they are just danger seekers traveling about on Daddy’s money. We don’t know. We do know that ALL American media outlets have censored this story, and that Iran has cause to suspect them of espionage.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, February 6, 2011 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment

Papparazzi.

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By rollzone, February 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm Link to this comment

hello. hiking trails similar to crossing the Mexico/New
Mexico border, are done only by people avoiding legal
crossings. these are not pleasant nature trails.
proving they are spies, and not simple criminals, will
be determined by court- and not frontier justice. i can
accept any ruling of reasonable doubt or overwhelming
argumentative evidence of fact. i no longer expect the
truth.

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