Freed Hikers thank Hugo Chavez, Noam Chomsky, Cindy Sheehan
which was only selectively broadcast (censored) on
western corporate whore media channels.
Media update from www.freethehikers.org – September 25,
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two Americans released
by Iran after more than two years in detention,
returned to the United States today after a three-day
layover in Muscat, Oman with their families. They made
the following statements in New York.
Good afternoon and thank you for coming here today.
My name is Josh Fattal.
After 781 days of prison, Shane and I are now free men.
Last Wednesday, we had just finished our brief daily
exercise in the open air room of Evin Prison when
something totally unexpected happened. On any other
day, we would have been blindfolded and led down the
hallway to our eight foot by 13 foot cell. But on that
day, the guards took us downstairs. They finger
printed us and gave us street clothes. They did not
tell us where we were going. Instead, they took us to
another part of the prison where we saw Dr. Salem Al
Ismaily, the envoy of His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos of
Oman. The first thing Salem said to us was, "Let's go
What followed was the most incredible experience of our
lives. We were held in captivity in almost complete
isolation for more than two years. But for the past
few, precious days we have been experiencing free life
anew with our families in Muscat.
In all the time we spent in detention, we had a total
of 15 minutes of telephone calls with our families and
one, short visit from our mothers. 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. Solitary
confinement was the worst experience of our lives and
it was a nightmare that Sarah had to endure for 14
months. Sarah's strength during the one-hour meetings
we were allowed with her lifted our spirits daily. One
year ago, when Sarah was released, our world shrank.
We lived in a world of lies and false hope. The
investigators lied that Ambassador Leu from the Swiss
Embassy in Tehran did not want to see us. They told
us, again falsely, that we would be given due process
and access to our lawyer, the courageous and persistent
Mr. Masoud Shafii. Most infuriatingly,
they even told us that our families had stopped writing
Releasing us is a good gesture, and no positive step
should go unnoticed. We applaud the Iranian
authorities for finally making the right decision
regarding our case. But we want to be clear that
they do not deserve undue credit for ending what they
had no right and no justification to start in the first
place. From the very start, the only reason we have
been held hostage is because we are American. Sarah
was held for 410 days. The two of us were held for 781
days. That is far longer than the American hostages at
the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979.
It was clear to us from the very beginning that we were
hostages. This is the most accurate term because,
despite certain knowledge of our innocence, Iran has
always tied our case to its political disputes with the
US. Thank you. I would like to hand over now to
Shane. He helped me through the worst days of my
life. I cannot imagine how I would have made it
through these two years without you, Shane.
Thank you, Josh, and thank you everyone for being here.
We will always regret the grief and anxiety that our
fateful hiking trip led to, above all for our families.
But we would like to be very clear. This was never
about crossing the unmarked border between Iran and
Iraq. We were held because of our nationality.
Indeed, there are many other cases of unauthorized
entry to Iran in which people were simply fined or
deported after a short time. We do not know if we
crossed the border. We will probably never know.
But even if we did enter Iran, that has never been the
reason why the Iranian authorities kept us in prison
for so long.
The only explanation for our prolonged detention is the
32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran.
The irony is that Sarah, Josh and I oppose U.S.
policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility.
We were convicted of espionage because we are American.
It's that simple. No evidence was ever presented
against us. That is because there is no evidence and
because we are completely innocent. The two court
sessions we attended were a total sham. They were made
up of ridiculous lies that depicted us as being
involved in an elaborate American-Israeli conspiracy to
Sarah, Josh and I have experienced a taste of the
Iranian regime's brutality. We have been held in almost
total isolation from the world and everything we love,
stripped of our rights and freedom. You may
ask us, "Now that you are free can you forgive the
Iranian government for what it has done to you?"
Our answer is this. How can we forgive the Iranian
government when it continues to imprison so many other
innocent people and prisoners of conscience?
It is the Iranian people who bear the brunt of this
government's cruelty and disregard for human rights.
There are people in Iran who are imprisoned for years
for simply attending a protest, for writing a
pro-democracy blog or for worshipping an unpopular
Journalists remain behind bars and innocent people have
been executed. If the Iranian government wants to
change its image in the world, and ease international
pressure, it should release all political prisoners and
prisoners of conscience immediately. They deserve
their freedom just as much as we do.
In prison, every time we complained about our
conditions, the guards would immediately remind us of
comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay. They would
remind of us CIA prisons in other parts of the world,
and the conditions that Iranians and others experience
in prisons in the U.S. We do not believe that such
human rights violations on the part of our government
justify what has been done to us. Not for a
moment. However, we do believe that these actions on
the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other
governments, including the government of Iran, to act
Thank you. Josh and I now want to express
our thanks to everyone who helped make today happen.
When our mothers were allowed to visit us in May of
2010, they told us about the campaign to win our
freedom. We owe a lifelong debt of gratitude to so
many people. Their efforts mean we are free and we
will never be able to thank them enough.
Our thanks go first and foremost to our wonderful
families, who have done more for us than we can ever
repay. This has been their ordeal as much as our
ordeal and they have sacrificed so much for us to be
here today. That includes Sarah, who joined them as
soon as she was free in their tireless work to help
achieve our freedom. We owe all of you a great debt
and our love for you is unqualified and eternal.
They include all of our friends, here at home and
overseas. Like our families, many of our friends put
their own lives on hold to fight for our freedom. Like
our families, they did so while coping with their own
pain over our detention. You are true friends and
always will be.
And they include tens of thousands of people in America
and all over the world, including in Iran. They have
expressed their support for us, donated to the Free the
Hikers campaign, and prayed for us, each in his or her
own way. We will never know most of those people but
we want them to know that we love them and always will.
Thank you all for the energy and comfort that you sent
to us in our hours of darkness.
Our lawyer Mr.Masoud Shafii took on our case at the end
of 2009 and has been a determined and brave advocate
ever since. He was never allowed to represent us
properly, but he never gave up. We will always
stand by him, as he stood by us for so long.
His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos of Oman and his envoy Dr.
Salem Al Ismaily worked ceaselessly to bring us home.
We are humbled by their humanity and their unswerving
commitment to justice. We are eternally
grateful for the kindness and hospitality they and the
people of Oman have shown to us and our families.
The Swiss Ambassador to Iran, Livia Leu Agosti, and her
colleagues never stopped trying to gain consular access
to us and to resolve our case. We were denied our
rights to their visits but we know that Livia and her
colleagues would show up time and again at Evin Prison
to try to see us. Thank you for your unstinting
dedication to us.
We also want to express our great thanks to the many
world leaders and individuals who championed our cause.
They include the U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon,
President Jalal Talabani of Iraq and President Hugo
Chavez of Venezuela and the governments of Turkey and
Brazil. They were certain of our innocence and their
certainty made a difference.
They include the actor Sean Penn, the great Muhammad
Ali, Noam Chomsky, the singer Yusuf Islam, Cindy
Sheehan and the Nobel Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu
and Mairead Maguire. We will always remember that you
stood by us.
There were also U.S. government officials who worked
for our release, and some of them found creative ways
to try and lessen the tension between the US and Iran.
Consular officials at the State Department supported
our families throughout. Our Members of Congress
spoke up for us, publicly and privately. Ambassador
Richard Schmierer, his wife Sandy and the staff of the
U.S. embassy in Oman were most gracious with their time
and hospitality twice now. They have our gratitude for
their support and kindness.
The sympathy and support of many Muslim and other
religious leaders in America, the Iranian people and
the elements within the Iranian government that worked
for our freedom were also all invaluable. Thank you.
Finally, we want to thank the media, in the United
States and around the world, for keeping our case in
the public eye. It means a lot to us. And now that we
are home, we know you will give us the time we need to
reconnect with our families and rebuild our lives.
When Sarah was about to walk out of Evin Prison last
year, we vowed to each other than none of us would be
entirely free until all of us were free. That moment
has now thankfully come. Sarah, Josh and I can now
finally leave prison behind us. We want more than
anything to begin our lives anew and with a new
appreciation for the sweet taste of freedom.
Thank you everyone.
Published on September 25, 2011, 07:14PM
Freed American hikers thank Hugo Chavez, Noam Chomsky, Cindy Sheehan
comment to the article further below
If there was any more unsupported, unsubstantiated, and unjustified innuendo and supposition in this article, my head may have exploded. Must be a slow news day. This is a pathetic excuse for analysis and opinion on an important news story. Seems you just can't handle the facts that they stated, so you feel compelled to subject them to some kind of discredit. Too bad that there is ZERO evidence of their left-wing copnnections before their arrest. You can't blame them for the fact that they became international news and famous leftists sought to intervene for (gasp) humanitarian reasons. But then again, you folks don't understand humanitarian motivations - only profit motivations. So you wouldn't understand.
here now the washingtontimes (right wing yellow press) propaganda piece:
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the now freed American
hikers who were held in an Iranian prison after being
convicted for espionage, appeared before cameras and
reporters in New York on Sunday and gave prepared
statements about their detentions in Iran. According to
reports, the Gulf sultanate of Oman paid for both of
the men's bail ($500,000 each), the same fee that was
paid for Shourd's bail by Oman last year.
Bauer, a freelance journalist, along with Sarah Shourd,
a teacher and women's rights activist, and Fattal, an
environmentalist, were arrested July 31, 2009 while
hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan. Shourd was released last
year. Bauer's and Fattal's remarks were critical of
American foreign policy towards Iran as well as the
Iranian government's treatment of it's own people.
"The only explanation for our prolonged detention is
the 32 years of mutual hostility between American and
Iran. The irony is Sarah Josh and I oppose U.S.
policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility.
We were convicted of espionage, because we are
American," said Bauer. He continued, "It's that
simple. No evidence was ever presented against us. That
is because there is no evidence and because we are
Towards the end of the men's remarks, they began naming
specific world leaders, public officials, and
celebrities who the two believed helped with gaining
their freedom. In fact, two hikers also specifically
named among others: Venezeulan dictator Hugo Chavez,
Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu, Code Pink's Cindy Sheehan,
liberal writer Noam Chomsky, and actor Sean Penn.
"From the very start, the only reason we have been held
hostage is because we are American. Sarah was held for
410 days. The two of us were held for 781 days. That is
far longer than the American hostages at the U.S.
embassy in Tehran in 1979," said Fattal.
Fattal and Bauer gave no clue as to why they were
hiking on the border of Iraq and Iran, but their views
of U.S. foreign policy and those who they thanked in
their remarks may actually begin to paint a picture as
to why they were hanging out in such a dangerous region
in the world.
All three appear to be heavily involved in left-wing
foreign policy activism overseas. In 2009, according to
Reuters, 80 left-wing policy activists signed a letter
to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asking for the
release of all three hikers: (bolding is mine)
The prominent collection of academics,
intellectuals, artists, adventurers, writers,
journalists and activists, urged Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to make good on his pledge to
pursue maximum leniency for the three.
"To continue to detain them without due process
raises grave concerns that Iran is holding these three
young Americans for political purposes and calls into
question Iran's stated commitment to the rule of law,"
the group said in a letter.
The signatories included, Ms. Magazine co-founder
Gloria Steinem, Mother Jones magazine editor Monika
Bauerlein, civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse
Jackson, Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope,
peace activist Noam Chomsky and antiwar activist Medea
Benjamin, who founded the group Code Pink.
Also signing were Palestinian activist Hanan
Ashrawi, Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, former
Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and 1976
Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire.
Code Pink activists have gone to Iran in the past on
left-wing political missions. This begs the question if
the three American hikers were in the region as a
result of a left-wing political activism mission that
went awry at the last minute. The hikers' statements on
Sunday seems to give more evidence to this. Here's a
blog post from a 2008 Code Pink trip to Iran:
Our first meeting was with our dear friend Rostam
Pourzal, who works with the anti-sanctions group CASMI.
Rostam used to live in Washington DC, but moved back to
Iran recently. Thank goodness he came to greet us,
because it turned out that the government person who
was supposed to set up our schedule today didn't show
up. So Rostam filled in the day for us with an amazing
variety of activities and meetings.
First, he brought over a filmmaker, Habib
Ahmadzadeh, who works on films that deal with the
Iran-Iraq war. Habib took us out to a delicious lunch
in a typical, old Persian restaurant where we ate
scrumptious lamb, eggplant and kabobs. Then we went to
his office, but along the way he stopped to show us the
old, abandoned U.S. Embassy. It is now surrounded by
murals with anti-American slogans—a stark reminder of
the harsh rhetoric emanating from both governments.
Shane Bauer excoriated the both the U.S. and Iran. He
asked, "Sarah, Josh, and I have experienced a taste of
the Iranian regime's brutality. We've been held in
total isolation of everything we love...stripped of our
rights and freedom. You may ask us, 'Now that you are
free, can you forgive the Iranian government for what
it has done to you?"
"Our answer is this: How can we forgive the Iranian
government when it continues to imprison so many other
innocent people and prisoners of conscience. It is the
Iranian people who bear the brunt of this government's
cruelty and disregard for human rights."
Bauer also said, "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 in other parts of the world and
the conditions that Iranians and others experience in
prisons in the U.S."
"We do not believe such human rights violations on the
part of our government justify what has been done to
us. Not for a moment. However, we do believe these
actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for
other governments, including the government of Iran to
act in kind," Bauer explained.
The hikers' defenders will say Shourd, Fattal, and
Bauer were on a innocent excursion and nothing else,
but the hikers' explicit political statements on Sunday
as well as high profile left-wing political connections
may make many wonder if their trip had less to do with
sight-seeing and more to do with political activism