Ahmadinejad says US hikers will be pardoned, Iranian judiciary denies it 23 replies

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Commissar MercZ

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#1 7 years ago

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/world/middleeast/irans-judiciary-clouds-fate-of-american-hikers.html

Iran’s Judiciary Clouds Fate of American Hikers By ALAN COWELL and RICK GLADSTONE LONDON — The Iranian judiciary on Wednesday contradicted an assurance by Iran’s president that two Americans arrested two years ago while hiking the Iran-Iraq frontier and imprisoned on espionage charges would be freed as a humanitarian gesture, the state news media reported.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disclosed the plan to liberate the hikers, Shane M. Bauer and Joshua F. Fattal, on Tuesday in a move that seemed timed to portray him more favorably before he attends the United Nations General Assembly meeting next week. But the judiciary’s announcement could prove to be deeply embarrassing, showing the limits of his power and highlighting the frictions between Mr. Ahmadinejad and the conservatives who control the courts.

Specifically, the apparent conflict over the Americans’ legal status could reflect a worsening rift between Mr. Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation’s spiritual leader and highest authority, who is closely allied to the courts.

On Wednesday, the state media reported that “Iran’s judiciary has refuted recent media reports on the imminent release of two American nationals that were convicted of committing espionage against the Islamic Republic for the U.S. government.”

“The two Americans are going to stay in prison for a bit longer. Reports of their imminent release are wrong,” a judiciary official was quoted as saying.

The semiofficial Fars news agency said a judge was still reviewing a request by lawyers for the two men that they be freed on what the Iranian judiciary calls bail, which is essentially a ransom payment for their freedom. “Only the judiciary is authorized to reveal information on this case,” Fars quoted a judiciary statement as saying.

Despite the contradictory messages coming out of Iran, there were unconfirmed indications that the release of Mr. Bauer and Mr. Fattal was proceeding. The Associated Press quoted an unidentified official at Oman’s Foreign Ministry as saying it had sent a plane to Tehran amid efforts toward a bail-for-freedom deal for the Americans. The Omanis played a similar role in the release of a third American traveling with them, Sarah E. Shourd, who was released about a year ago,

An Iranian lawyer for the two men, Masoud Shafiei, was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying that each prisoner would have to pay $500,000 bail, as Ms. Shourd had done, and that he was awaiting approvals of two judges for the process to go forward.

Mr. Shafiei was also quoted as saying the families of the prisoners and the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which looks after American interests in Iran, had been informed of the status of the case

The remarks on the hikers by President Ahmadinejad in a television interview on Tuesday from Tehran with NBC’s “Today” show, came a month after Mr. Bauer and Mr. Fattal, , both 29, were sentenced to eight years in prison for spying and trespassing, charges that they have denied.

The sentence was considered unusually harsh and seen as an increasingly tough public relations problem abroad for Mr. Ahmadinejad, even when considering the longstanding estrangement between the United States and Iran.

It was unclear whether Mr. Ahmadinejad’s readiness to free the Americans would create an opening for an improvement in those relations. But it was welcomed by the families of the two men.

“Shane and Josh’s freedom means more to us than anything,” the families said in a statement on Tuesday, “and it’s a huge relief to read that they are going to be released. We’re grateful to everyone who has supported us and looking forward to our reunion with Shane and Josh. We hope to say more when they are finally back in our arms.”

A Web site devoted to their cause, FreetheHikers.org, led its home page with the headline: “Iran Says Shane and Josh to Be Released by Thursday!” The headline was still up on the site Wednesday.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was cautious in her reaction, but said she was encouraged.

“We obviously hope that we will see a positive outcome from what appears to be a decision by the government,” she said in Washington, without referring specifically to Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Asked in the “Today” interview with Ann Curry about the case against the Americans, Mr. Ahmadinejad said, “I think these two persons will be freed in a couple of days.”

But he repeated complaints about what he said were the unjust imprisonment of Iranians in the United States, and said that Mr. Bauer and Mr. Fattal were well cared for in Iran’s penal system. “It’s like staying in a hotel,” he said.

The Iranian authorities have never publicly provided evidence to support their accusations that the hikers were American spies, and a wide range of outside voices, including Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations and the human rights group Amnesty International, have called for their unconditional release.

The Iranians have filed similar cases against American citizens, including Roxana Saberi, a journalist who was also sentenced in 2009 to eight years on espionage charges she denied — only to be released with great fanfare as a humanitarian gesture.

Mr. Bauer, Mr. Fattal and Ms. Shourd were arrested near the Iraqi border with Iran in July 2009 by border guards who said they had intentionally trespassed on Iranian territory.

Ms. Shourd was released on $500,000 bail in September 2010 — also just before the annual General Assembly — and returned to the United States.

All three Americans, graduates of the University of California, Berkeley, were in the Middle East to study or travel. They said they had made an innocent mistake in wandering over the unmarked border, crossing when a soldier of unknown nationality waved for them to approach. They were only then told they had crossed into Iran and were arrested, according to Ms. Shourd, who is Mr. Bauer’s fiancée.

Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic ties since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and the two countries are at odds over Iran’s nuclear program and its hostility toward Israel.

Alan Cowell reported from London, and Rick Gladstone from New York. Steven Lee Myers contributed reporting from Washington.

Back in 2009 three Americans, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Joshua Fattal ended up crossing the border from Iraq into Iran while hiking around the Ahmad Awa region in Iraqi Kurdistan. They were detained for this on suspicions of espionage by the state. The female in the group, Sarah Shourd, was released on bail in September of 2010, while the two males were left to stand trial.

Their capture and trial was not liked by the US obviously and much of the international community called for their release on account of the lack of evidence regarding the charges. In all events, the hikers probably got themselves tied up in a larger political feud between Iran and its enemies.

On August 20th, Bauer and Fattal were sentenced to 8 years by Iranian courts. After this however, President Ahmadinejad signaled that he would pardon teh hikers and let them free- this was followed by the judicary's decision which said no such decision was being made.

This ties into a larger problem within Iran currently, with many analysts suggesting that a rift has begun to grow between President Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamanei. Earlier this year issues grew between the two over government appointments and policy, and Ahmadinejad ignoring orders from the Ayatollah. This in turn probably resulted in the arrests of some of Ahmadinejad's allies on charges of "apostasy" and "sorcery".

This spat seems to have continued across the year and is probably making itself known here, as the Ayatollah and the clergy largely control the judiciary. Ahmadinejad's positions were probably a means to test and mess with his rivals, but of course one of the two camps has to win over this.




AlDaja

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#2 7 years ago

Apparently, the Iranians gave a rats-ass about their sentiments that 'America sucks, man'. Don't matter how sympathetic you are to people who hate you. Hiking in an area known to be hostile toward Americans, Europeans or anyone not aligned with the regime regardless of your social political leans will earn you the dumbass award. They deserve their fate. Next time exercise commonsense and stay out of regions where you are not wanted or liked.




Keyser_Soze

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#3 7 years ago

Correct me if i'm wrong, but the border between Iraq and Iran is quite disputed, did they know they were in Iran?




Commissar MercZ

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#4 7 years ago

AlDaja;5560230Apparently, the Iranians gave a rats-ass about their sentiments that 'America sucks, man'. Don't matter how sympathetic you are to people who hate you. Hiking in an area known to be hostile toward Americans, Europeans or anyone not aligned with the regime regardless of your social political leans will earn you the dumbass award. They deserve their fate. Next time exercise commonsense and stay out of regions where you are not wanted or liked.[/QUOTE]

TBH, that border there really isn't clear. The border never was stabilized and as far as they claim, they only wanted to see the top of the mountain.

I had been to the region many times myself and have been 'on the border', or rather the large chunk of mountains where the border is supposed to come through at some point.

Spoiler: Show
38359963.jpg

Now of course, there is no clear line where the border is. Some days Iraq might feel like that in fact, the whole mountain is on their end of the border, while on other days Iran might say the same. Sometimes they might say it runs right through the middle. It isn't clear entirely.

I really don't see what their political beliefs or positions should judge them by. Frankly anyone else could have ended up in that position regardless of what they believed in.

A while back in 2007 we had a similar problem with some British navy people were seized for entering Iranian waters, when they said they were infact in Iraqi waters. The whole border, land or sea, is still disputed.

[QUOTE=Keyser_Soze;5560372]Correct me if i'm wrong, but the border between Iraq and Iran is quite disputed, did they know they were in Iran?

That's what I was confused about too. I had actually been in Ahmad Awa some time ago and the locals just visit the waterfalls, creeks, and trees below it. So it is a common place.

Spoiler: Show
8924093.jpg

However, they don't go to the top of the mountain because the border runs right over it in an indeterminate location, and typically anyone "Kurdish" looking runs the chance of getting killed on sight anyways due to PJAK activities. I had visited the location in 2007 and almost everyone said that it wasn't wise to go to the top of the mountain. Then again I have the advantage of knowing the language, and they may've misunderstood the broken English as the mountain climb itself was 'dangerous' (ie not for amateurs) rather than it being dangerous due to the border issues.




MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#5 7 years ago

Commissar MercZ;5560436TBH, that border there really isn't clear. The border never was stabilized and as far as they claim, they only wanted to see the top of the mountain.

I had been to the region many times myself and have been 'on the border', or rather the large chunk of mountains where the border is supposed to come through at some point.

Spoiler: Show
38359963.jpg

Now of course, there is no clear line where the border is. Some days Iraq might feel like that in fact, the whole mountain is on their end of the border, while on other days Iran might say the same. Sometimes they might say it runs right through the middle. It isn't clear entirely.

I really don't see what their political beliefs or positions should judge them by. Frankly anyone else could have ended up in that position regardless of what they believed in.

A while back in 2007 we had a similar problem with some British navy people were seized for entering Iranian waters, when they said they were infact in Iraqi waters. The whole border, land or sea, is still disputed.

That's what I was confused about too. I had actually been in Ahmad Awa some time ago and the locals just visit the waterfalls, creeks, and trees below it. So it is a common place.

Spoiler: Show
8924093.jpg

However, they don't go to the top of the mountain because the border runs right over it in an indeterminate location, and typically anyone "Kurdish" looking runs the chance of getting killed on sight anyways due to PJAK activities. I had visited the location in 2007 and almost everyone said that it wasn't wise to go to the top of the mountain. Then again I have the advantage of knowing the language, and they may've misunderstood the broken English as the mountain climb itself was 'dangerous' (ie not for amateurs) rather than it being dangerous due to the border issues.

If you don't mind the personal question - what were you doing there? It almost sounds like you're from Iraq.




Embee

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#6 7 years ago

MercZ is a Kurd, if I remember correctly. So, he's from the "Kurdistan" region, the place between Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran.




Mihail VIP Member

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#7 7 years ago

My opinion on those hikers...... Who the fuck goes to Iraq to hike?




Mr. Matt VIP Member

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#8 7 years ago

Thrill seekers. Anarchists who believe that artificially-imposed boundaries shouldn't stop them from doing what they enjoy. And idiots.




AlDaja

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#9 7 years ago
My opinion on those hikers...... Who the fuck goes to Iraq to hike?

This...

Thrill seekers. Anarchists who believe that artificially-imposed boundaries shouldn't stop them from doing what they enjoy. And idiots.

...and this.




Guest

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#10 7 years ago
Mihail;5560488My opinion on those hikers...... Who the fuck goes to Iraq to hike?

People who are impressed by an impressed display of geography, and its not like that area of Iraq is crawling with insurgents and US forces.