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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora