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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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