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Americans Captured at Iranian Border

August 11, 2009

Their timing could not have been worse. Three American hikers found themselves in Iranian territory while the country was continuing its clampdown on the international community in response to the deadly post-election protests.

Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 30, and Joshua Fattal, 27 were visiting the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya when they were arrested for crossing the Iraqi border into Iran. Shane Bauer is a journalist who has written for The Nation, Christian Science Monitor,, and has an article in this month’s Mother Jones magazine.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says that all three of the hikers had interests in writing and photography although the reason for this hike was purely sightseeing.

“There is no Lonely Planet Iraqi Kurdistan,” said their friend, Shon Meckfessel, who stayed behind on that day’s hike to recover from a cold. He said the spot they picked to hike was highly recommended by the locals they consulted and they had no idea it would lead them near the border.

The U.S. has stepped in to seek the release of the three, after over a week of just trying to confirm they were in fact in Iranian custody. Since the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, Iraq has pleaded on behalf of the United States for the prisoners’ release.

Shane Bauer, the freelance journalist, speaks Arabic and has been based in the Middle East and Northern Africa for six years. You can see a sampling of his work on his webpage.

Photo Credit: AFP

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.