Flawed Trial Of US Hikers Held In Iran Resumes

May 10, 2011

Update: The trial failed to resume on Wednesday and the Iranian lawyer of the two US citizens has lodged a formal protest against the delay.

Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal © APGraphicsBank

On May 11, Iran is set to resume the flawed trial of two US hikers apparently held for political reasons for nearly two years.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were arrested while hiking in the Iraq-Iran border area in July 2009. The exact circumstances of their arrest are unclear, but Iranian authorities have charged them with espionage and illegal entry.

Iran’s failure to meet international standards for a fair trial for Shane and Josh indicates a political motive in holding them which may amount to hostage-taking.

Amnesty International calls for their immediate release.  You can join us by taking action right now.

The facts surrounding the hikers’ arrest are disputed, and Iran’s justice system has systematically failed to observe international fair trial standards in this case, including giving the men adequate contact with their lawyer, families or consular assistance.

A third hiker arrested with the men, Sarah Shourd, was released last September on $500,000 bail.

Last year we called on Iran to release the men and to let them leave country if they were not to be charged with recognizably criminal offenses and given a fair trial. This has not happened and indicates that Iran has a political motive for holding them and has no intention of granting them a fair trial.

Eyewitness testimony reported by The Nation placed the three hikers inside Iraq, not Iran, at the time of their arrest by Iranian troops. Even though Iranian authorities maintain that they were arrested in Iranian territory, we believe that illegal entry into a country should never be subject to a penalty of imprisonment.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have been held at Tehran’s Evin Prison since their arrest, and have only been granted one brief encounter with family, when their mothers visited Iran in May 2010. They have been denied adequate access to their lawyer and only had few meetings with Swiss embassy officials, who represent US interests in Iran.

In media interviews, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has hinted that the hikers were being held as a bargaining chip to be used in Iran’s dealings with the United States.

Holding foreign nationals with the sole purpose of seeking concessions amounts to hostage taking, and if that is the case here, Iran must immediately and unconditionally release Josh and Shane.