News / Middle East

Iranian President Says US Hikers to Soon See Release

A picture released by Iran's state-run Press TV shows US hikers Shane Bauer (L) and Josh Fattal (R), detained in Iran on spying charges, during the first session of their trial, February 6, 2011 (file photo)
A picture released by Iran's state-run Press TV shows US hikers Shane Bauer (L) and Josh Fattal (R), detained in Iran on spying charges, during the first session of their trial, February 6, 2011 (file photo)

Two Americans imprisoned in Iran since July 2009 and recently convicted of spying are about to be released, according to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  A lawyer for the pair indicates that bail of half a million dollars has been set for each man.

American Hikers' Timeline

  • July 31, 2009: Iran arrests three American hikers, describes the three as "spies"
  • Nov. 5, 2009: Clinton expresses hope Iran will release the three "on humanitarian and compassionate" grounds
  • March 9, 2010: Iran allows the hikers to call home for the first time
  • April 28, 2010: Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu pleads for Iran to release the American hikers
  • May 20, 2010: The mothers of the three hikers travel to Tehran and visit with their children
  • May 24, 2010: The mothers of Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd announce their children plan to marry once they are freed from prison
  • July 29, 2010: Clinton again calls on Iran to release the hikers, who have been detained without trial for almost a year
  • Sept: 14, 2010: Iran releases Sarah Shourd on $500,000 bond for "medical reasons" in a deal brokered with the help of Oman and Switzerland
  • May 24, 2011: American boxing legend Muhammad Ali appeals for the immediate release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal
  • August 20, 2011: Iran sentences Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal to eight years in prison for entering the country illegally and spying for the U.S.
  • Sept: 13, 2011: Iranian President Ahmadinejad tells NBC television that he thinks Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal will be freed on humanitarian grounds within "a couple of days

The declaration Tuesday by President Ahmadinejad that the two imprisoned American hikers were about to be released comes as a hopeful sign that the men's 25-month-long ordeal may soon be over.  It was not, however, the first time that Ahmadinejad had made such an announcement, before hopes were later dashed.

Americans Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were given eight-year prison sentences last month after an Iranian court convicted them of espionage. The pair was detained, along with a third American, Sarah Shourd, for illegally entering the country in July 2009 after hiking in the vicinity of the Iraq-Iran border.

Shourd was released on bail of half a million dollars last September and left Iran.  An attorney for Bauer and Fattal told several news agencies Tuesday that bail for the same sum had been set for the two men.

Sarah Shourd told VOA recently that her two friends were innocent of the charges and that she hoped they would soon be released: “I close my eyes and I can see them in my mind, all the time. I know that they're still in that cell, they don't know when they're going to get out, and they're two beautiful people, two innocent people that don't deserve to be there, that should never have been there in the first place,” she stated.

According to Iran's Fars News Agency, Iran's President Ahmadinejad is due to address students at New York's Columbia University this month, during an expected visit to the United Nations General Assembly.

Analysts expressed caution amid the hopeful signs of the hikers' release.

Iranian-born analyst Alex Vatanka of the Middle East Institute in Washington thinks that an internal struggle between President Ahmadinejad and others in the Iranian power structure, including the country's supreme leader, may derail the release of the U.S. captives:

“The Iranian judiciary does not answer to President Ahmadinejad. It's beholden and answers only to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And, clearly, what we're witnessing here is again part of this infighting in the regime, where on the one hand President Ahmadinejad would want to make certain gestures towards the United States, Vatanka said. "The supreme leader on the other hand, wants to contain Ahmadinejad and certainly does not want the president to be in the lead in terms of negotiations with the United States.”

The head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, was appointed by Iran's supreme leader and along with his brother, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, has clashed repeatedly with President Ahmadinejad in recent years.

Still, the attorney for the U.S. hikers, Masoud Shafii, told VOA's Persian News Network on Tuesday that while the case is not yet dropped, Tehran's appeal court said it will accepted the half-million bail payments.

Relatives of the hikers in the U.S. have yet to comment. But Shafii says if the sum is paid, the men will be released "as soon as possible."

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

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs