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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid