News / USA

US Hikers: Iran Held Us Because of Nationality, Not Actions

Peter Fedynsky

Two American hikers released after 781 days in an Iranian prison are back in the United States.  Appearing at a news conference in New York on Sunday, the two men criticized Iran for holding political prisoners and the United States for maintaining the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  

Iranian prison officials used the Guantanamo facility as justification to deny Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer better prison conditions.

Captivity details

Josh Fattal described their captivity as nearly complete isolation in Tehran’s Evin Prison.  He said he and Shane Bauer were forced to live in a world of lies and false hopes.

“We had to go on hunger strike repeatedly just to receive letters from our loved ones.  Many times, too many times, we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten, and there was nothing we could do to help them," he said.

Shane Bauer told reporters that it is the Iranian people who bear the brunt of what he termed their government’s cruelty and disregard for human rights.  He called for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran.  While thanking American diplomats for helping to gain their release, he also directed criticism at the United States.

“In prison, every time we complained about our conditions, the guards would immediately remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay.  They would remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world, and the conditions that Iranians and others experienced in prisons in the U.S," he said.

Why they were arrested

Fattal, Bauer and a third American, Sarah Shourd, say they were hiking along Iraq's unmarked border and might have unknowingly strayed into Iran in July 2009.  The three were arrested and charged with espionage.  They say they were held hostage only because they were Americans.  Shourd was released in September 2010.  She appeared with her two colleagues in New York, along with family members of the hikers.  

Laura Fattal, Josh’s mother, said the men kept mentally active by quizzing each other, reading books and exercising. “One of the things that Josh told me was that they were very serious about their exercise.  And they used water bottles as weights in their cell to build muscles.  And you see they’re both very fit now," he said.

What's next?

The hikers expressed gratitude to the tens of thousands of people who participated in an international campaign to win their release.  They included world leaders, Nobel laureates, diplomats, the U.N. secretary-general, officials in the Iranian government and former boxing champion Mohammed Ali.

While Sarah Shourd was imprisoned in Iran, Shane Bauer asked whether she would marry him.  She agreed.  Now that she is reunited with her fiancé, Shourd says she looks forward to being married soon.  Josh Fattal will be their best man.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More