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Opinion: Shame on Iran

by RASHA ELASS in Damascus

14 Sep 2010 03:1747 Comments
56058807.jpg[ opinion ] Shame on Iran for putting Sarah Shourd's family and friends through so much heartache. First it was the ecstatic news of her pending release just a few days ago, only for that to be cancelled and then -- surprise -- a demand for "bail." Call it what you will, but is it not increasingly beginning to sound like a ransom?

I never met Sarah, but I did work briefly with her fiancé, Shane Bauer. Both of them, along with their friend Josh Fattal, were detained last summer while trekking near the border in Iraq's Kurdish region. The circumstances under which Shane and I worked sheds some light on the person he is.

Shane was the photographer for a story I was writing about a famous Damascene grandfather who rolls ground lamb into balls for a living. It is called kibbeh, a favorite regional dish. Usually in the shape of an egg, a kibbeh ball shell is typically made of lamb and bulgur, then stuffed with ground lamb and pine nuts. It comes in many variations, but almost always requires hours of tedious, exacting finger work that for centuries was the exclusive preserve of refined homemakers.

Anyway, that day I brought Shane to my home, introduced him to my mother, then released him in the kitchen to shoot photos of the Syrian kibbeh man and his little creations. Later he joined my family for the feast, and I remember he particularly loved the kibbeh in yogurt dish. We chatted about other favorite dishes, his slowly improving Arabic, and his fiancée, who was soon to join him in Syria as an English teacher. He was very excited about it all.

His photos were a hit, and I was looking forward to working with him again on another story. This one involved the building of a new Islamic library in Aleppo. Unfortunately, he was detained by the Iranian authorities shortly after he shot the photos for that report, before he even had a chance to file them with the magazine.

I have never been to Iran, but I have had a run in with the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, where I live and work as a journalist. It was a few years ago when I was reporting a story for the New York Times on the opening of an Iranian car manufacturer in Syria. Prior to this incident I was impartial toward the Iranian authorities. But when I placed a press call to the Iranian Embassy to inquire about car sales figures, I got a glimpse of how brutal the Islamic Republic's authorities can be.

"What is your name and who are you?" the Iranian official curtly asked me on the phone. "And how do you spell your name in English? And in Arabic?" Alright, I was used to dealing with a little disrespect here and there, working as journalist. Even in the United States, where I have had hostile run-ins with big corporations.

But this official then proceeded to ask me what "citizenship" I held, and how come I spoke such "American English," and what visa status I held in Syria.

I politely explained that I was Syrian American. "What is your address? Where is your office? What is your phone number?" he continued.

He wrote down all my information and hung up, without answering my query. I have no doubt he forwarded his newly acquired intel to the powers that be here in Syria, perhaps thinking he had caught a spy. Luckily, this official had no authority over me. But the interaction made me shudder at the thought of what would have happened to me if he had.

Which is why my heart goes out to Shane, Sarah, and Josh. If common sense is a good compass for arriving at conclusions, then I am pretty sure the Iranian authorities know that Shane and his friends are not spies at all.

Otherwise, why would Iran cruelly promise Sarah's release one day only to cancel it the next, before changing stance again and demanding bail? At $500,000, the bail figure is much too high for any private citizen, yet certainly not high enough if the authorities really believe Sarah to be a spy.

Rasha Elass is Chief Editor of Damascus Diaries.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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47 Comments

this is the Ahmadinejad falt and also our stupid governers,it is not İran or İranians' falt.

Shahab.Mokhberi / September 14, 2010 6:56 AM

Dear RASHA ELASS


Have you heard of Sohrab and Neda?

The regime thugs have shattered and vandalized Neda's grave stone at least 3 times.
They lied to Sohrab's mother for 32 days that 'your son is fine and alive and would be released any day' when they had already killed the 18 year old boy.

There are brave Iranian men and women languishing in limbo in Iran prisons daily, receiving treatment even worse, much worse than this poor girl. They are not any less precious than an American woman. They have mothers too.


So please, next time you want to title an article, instead of writing "shame on Iran", show a bit more sensitivity, tact and yes, intelligence, and do not "shame" the nation that is paying the highest price under the boots of this sadistic regime.


ahvaz / September 14, 2010 7:35 AM

shame on the Islamic fanatic fascist dictatorship NOT on the country and it's people, NOT IRAN..!!

Alal / September 14, 2010 7:43 AM

Perhaps a better way of saying the same, and a better title, would be, Shame on the Islamic Republic. It is not Iran as a nation that is committing such acts, but a political system called the Islamic Republic.

Asghar Taragheh / September 14, 2010 7:47 AM

this is quite interesting,at first i thought that the bail money was in iranian currency,which would not have been much,still ,it is abhoring to think that they really want money for her release.shame on them,what happened to the oil,maybe the sanctions are really taking its tole on the judiciary system also.

fay / September 14, 2010 7:59 AM

Shame on Iran's Dictator who is putting our brightest freedom fighters in jails everyday. I can't wait for these murderer and thugs to leave our beloved IRAN. In hope of one day IRAN be back to its magnificent self and we all be there to witness it.

Nick3904 / September 14, 2010 9:15 AM


ElASS,

what the team was doing near the border in Iraq's Kurdish Region" ..where they in summer vocation?

The area is known lately to have attracted active
Mossad- Israel's inteligence - operations..and the regional countries didnt hide their worrisome of the Israel's activities in the area.

abdikadir / September 14, 2010 12:14 PM

I am an Iranian living in Tehran, and from here I declare my sympathy with the families of innocent third prisoner, and I wish soon to be released and return to their homeland, families of these prisoners know that the Iranian people against the regime's behavior are charged with spying for the three cases is a shameful lie ...
Long live freedom

Cyrus the Great / September 14, 2010 12:27 PM

"What is your name and who are you?"
"And how do you spell your name in English? And in Arabic?"
"citizenship"
"What is your address? Where is your office? What is your phone number?"

Good lord

RASHA,

I am really sorry you were subject of so much hardship.
Since you are still around and especially in Syria, I can easily conclude he did not report you. Now that is a blessing.

You have not done your homework dear. There is a little power struggle in Iran and they are caught in the middle of it. Sarah is being released since Ahmadinejad is coming to NewYork. I leave the rest to your imagination.

Now is it not curious? Many Iranians have experienced extensive torturous moments just as you described them with the U.S. immigration. emmm, do you really think there is a connection there RASHA?

Niloofar / September 14, 2010 4:25 PM

Dear Rasha Elass,

As an Iranian, I am profoundly humiliated by my government. I can write a book as to why my country's leaders are a disgrace to Iranians all over the World. But, please, you do not offend us.

Next time you wanted to express anger at my government, say Iranian government, please. Iranians understand u mean Iranian Government by using Iran, but as we have become so sensitive in the last months, have some mercy on us and use anything but Iran for referring to my government.

Amin / September 14, 2010 5:35 PM

Looks like they released her, now how about the others? And was the ransom paid, and by whom?

It's a sad state of affairs. To claim the Iranian people have nothing to do with this is wishful thinking. Yes, not 100% of the Iranian people agree with all the policies of the Islamic republic. But it is fairly clear that a consensus do. (More believe in the IR than any other alternative).

It is very unfortunate that it was Iranian people that captured these people. It was Iranian people that drove them to the Iranian authorties, and it was Iranian people that put them in jail.

It is very apparent that the Iranian government has endorsed this action. And it is also very apparent that the Iranian government exasperated this detention for it's own political gains. Now that it appears there is no gain in these dententions, the Iranian government is in quite a quandry.

-----------------------

Niloofar,

Yes, there is a power struggle in Iran. But, it appears that any reasonable political thought will not win this struggle for many years,yet. The current struggle is to "put a human face" on the Islamic revolution. It seems most people in Iran would be very happy with such a result. The real question is...Is there a human face to the Islamic revolution?

Not unlike many, many, nations, Iran seems to be many years from any respect for it's citizens rights to life and, most importantly, liberty.

muhammad billy bob / September 14, 2010 7:09 PM

The release is good news and I feel no shame whatsoever.

In the American criminal justice system, delays on bail and parole are not uncommon. So why should Iran be any different?

And I haven't heard of any releases ever from Guantanimo or Bagram based on humanitarian reasons- has anybody else?

No, this is good news. Hold your heads high.

Oh, and Rasha: hypothetically, how about calling up the US embassy and making a similar inquiry regarding your old time friend Khalid Sheikh Mohammed- see the response you get with that one!

Pirouz / September 14, 2010 7:28 PM

Excellent article, you made it very personal and an insight to the people being held. Great work.

Amber Malhas / September 14, 2010 8:30 PM

Shame on those that want to appease this brbaric regime. Shame on the westerners and the Journalist that know these people and still talk about the "reformist" portion of Islamic Republic. Shame on those so-called "progressives" that under veil of "peace seeking" and "preventing war" mingle with these animals. Shame on west for tolerating this brutal regime that is building a nuclear bomb to take the entire world hostage.
Shame on the New York Times Reporters that know what is going on and say or write nothing.
Shame, Shame Shame

shahin / September 15, 2010 12:18 AM

Billy Bob,

I believe you should change Iran with Barbaric Republic and you will see the light immediately. I have not lived in Iran, but I know my own people and I beg to differ with you. Our tears have dried up Mr. Billy Bob. Where are these people when Iranians die? Please don't judge us until such time you can claim you walked in our shoes. Meanwhile, you can thank Mr. Carter and his administration for their great accomplishments.

Niloofar / September 15, 2010 12:50 AM

Billy Bob,
The policy of human face was conducted by Khatami. It failed.
"It seems most people in Iran would be very happy with such a result." What results? Holding a human being hostage for political gains? Where is the gain in this for the Iranian people Mr. Billy Bob?
"It is very unfortunate that it was Iranian people that captured these people. It was Iranian people that drove them to the Iranian authorities, and it was Iranian people that put them in jail."
What are you talking about Mr. Billy Bob? Iranian people captured them? Drove them to Authorities? And put them in jail? Since when in a totalitarian regime people have any say in the daily affairs of the government? Why don't we call it a democracy then? Aren't you over reacting?
As far as this government is concerned we are all in it together. Calm down and take a realistic view. Who knows what they were up to when they were captured, do you? Do I? We all like to think they are innocent, we all like for them to be home with their families, but they have nothing over anyone else, nothing.

Niloofar / September 15, 2010 1:23 AM

Lip service. Ever heard of Sami Al-Arian having a great time in US justice depatment's teeth.

Anonymous / September 15, 2010 1:45 AM

Case to prove my point-Pirouz! Thank you. Keep your head held high while you advocate the imprisionment and murders of innocents as long as they are held by Iranians and not americans!

muhammad billy bob / September 15, 2010 2:00 AM

It is good to hear that Iran has released Ms. Shroud. I am neither Iranian nor American. I am not even Syrian, or Muslim. But I do believe I have some idea of why Iranian govt. is acting the way it is. Iran is scared of an attack by the US and its allies. The govt. got a preview of that attack next door in Iraq in 2003. Imagine that: a country that wants to attack you, is sending spies to Iran (Robert Levinson ex-FBI is still missing in Iran), finances terrorists who bomb different parts of your country (see Seymour Hersh's articles in the New Yorker), and kidnaps and holds your diplomats as prisoners (Five Iranian diplomats were kidnapped and held as prisoners by the US in Iraq for 2 years*) -- how do you suppose Iran should react toward the US and US citizens?

*http://articles.cnn.com/2009-07-12/world/iran.america.diplomats_1_british-hostages-fars-news-agency-five-iranians?_s=PM:WORLD

Aman / September 15, 2010 3:55 AM

Dear Missy,

Calm down. You are upset embassy personnel asked for you name and information? Well, helllo, it happens everywhere. I have been rude to by the U.S. State Department personnel when inquiring simple information about my residency, I have been given unnecessary run around and waiting for two hours in German embassy trying to get a two-week visa to visit relatives, I have been given run around in Motor Vehicle (state agency), I get dirty looks in stores,...But, I have NEVER assumed it was America, Canada, Germany,...that are being rude and now, you got your pants in a knot because someone at official capacity asked for your name when you made a cold call? Grow up

CM / September 15, 2010 4:27 AM

M billy bob

...""It is very unfortunate that it was Iranian people that captured these people. It was Iranian people that drove them to the Iranian authorties, and it was Iranian people that put them in jail. ""..

IRGC is NOT Iranian PPL, get that right, you're annoying me

Alal / September 15, 2010 8:19 AM

Amber Malhas

maybe making political issues personal IS the problem, either way of the stick; so NO it was NOT a great work..

Alal / September 15, 2010 8:22 AM

Hispanics who cross the US border illegally commonly spend 1 to even 3 years in the prison system before being deported. I think the journalist, though, is right in that no one should spend so much time behind bars for crossing a border, even illegally. Iranians should take responsibility for whatever government is in Iran, for better or for worst. Thus, shame on Iran is correct. But the Journalist fails to have perspective and understand that this situation is not unique to Iran.

I am glad the lady was released. I hope the rest are also released. I also hope the Obama administration listens to Sarah's mother who in Tehran called the administration to release the 3 abducted Iranians now in solitary confinement in the Federal Prison in Colorado, for the past two years. Obama has refused to give them a trial.

This is just another example of how bad things are getting between Iran and the US, and innocent people are being caught in the midddle. Something has to give soon, I hope some middle ground can be found to defuse this senseless tension.

Pouya / September 15, 2010 11:51 AM

Rasha

The only thing we can conclude from your article is that the employee at the embassy was rude. The rest is simple paranoid interpretation. As Niloofar correctly points out, since you are working in Syria, we can conclude your name was not forwarded to the authorities.

Pouya / September 15, 2010 11:53 AM

The SHAME belongs to the Islamic Republic regime occupying Iran and the MEDIA that makes them sound like a legitimate government with a JUDICIAL process.

This is a DESPOTIC regime with arbitrary rule of law. I know because I live there most of the time and have to deal with it on a daily basis. The laws, even regarding theft are arbitrary. The so called Judiciary is CORRUPT. The thieves can go free if they have enough money to pay off the judge.

These people are HOSTAGES, pure and simple. The $500,000 was a RANSOM, not BAIL. Why does not the media portray it like it is?!

It is also shameful of the US government to allow its citizens to be taken hostage without taking any action to free them.

Maziar Irani / September 15, 2010 9:34 PM

Who in the world goes hiking near the border of Iran? Something isn't right about this story. Why would three young Americans choose to travel to the Middle East and go hiking near the Iranian border? I hate to sound judgemental but I find it very hard to feel compassion for these three people who were either doing something very foolhardy or were involved in something no one wants to talk about.

If I decide to travel to Pakistan next week and go hiking in very dangerous regions and as a result am captured by Al Qaeda or the Taliban, will the whole world demonize them for their capturing me and laud me as some kind of heroine when I purposely behaved in a very reckless fashion? Personal responsibility, anyone? If I pick up a rattlesnake and it bites me, do we blame the snake?


I find it very odd that no one in the media seems to have delved into why these people chose to "hike" there. They make it sound like hiking along the Iranian border is the most natural thing in the world for a group of young Americans to do--like going to Yellowstone Park or hiking the Appalachian trail. I'd like to know more about the back story--it just doesn't sound right.

Heidi / September 16, 2010 1:23 AM

Niloofar,

Under a totalitarian regime, people do have a choice. It is a very, very difficult choice. Do they cooperate with the regime, or do they face the consquences of not cooperating with that regime? Do they choose to leave their families behind as many have done? Do they choose to not follow immoral orders, and face imprisonment, and other injustices?

My point is that not enough Iranians are willing to face the terrible consequences of disobeying the Iranians who are issuing the immoral orders. These are Iranians as well are they not? The millions that prop up the totalitarian regime are Iranians. From the local prison guard to the joe average soldier, they are making it easier for the totalitarian government to perform it's atrocities. Khamenei hasn't personally tortured anyone that I know of, he gets others to do that for him.

Alal,

"The IRGC is not Iranian PPL". The IRGC is comprised of Iranians, is it not? It may be comprised of Iranians you disagree with but they are Iranians. There are many Iranians that support the IR and it's policies. Basij, et al. Many Iranians are willing to beat unarmed protesters, many Iranians are willing to sentence people to long jail sentences for exercising their rights as humans. There are many Iranians who guard them in jail, and refuse contact with others. These people may not be the majority, but they are a sizeable enough group to control the rest. And they are part of the Iranian people.

Pouya,

Again you make quite a false statement. Hispanics that "illegally" cross the U.S. border do not in any way "commonly" spend 1 to 3 years in the prison system before being deported. Almost all those detained crossing the U.S. border are returned within 48 hrs. (with no bail or penalty whatsoever). There are some who request political or religious asylum, which requires a couple of months processing. Most that request asylum are released into the U.S. until their case is addressed. Then there is a very, very few that are refused to be accepted back in their home countries. Mostly for criminal convictions in their home countries. This is hardly common, and is very rare.

Finally what does Hispanics crossing into the U.S. have to do with these hikers?

muhammad billy bob / September 16, 2010 12:48 PM

Heidi,

There have been several articles on why these people were hiking in that area.

They are leftists americans. One of which was living in Syria. They had apparently taken several hiking trips around the region, in very unstable situations. There is some evidence that they were in the region in an effort to support anti-U.S. policy in the region.

Your assertion that they should have gone to Yellowstone or the AT is a little off, since one of them didn't live in the U.S. at the time. And they were touring the area.

But I do agree with your underlying implication. When U.S. citizens travel abroad, they are not entititled to protection from the U.S. government. Recently, there have been many cases of U.S. citizens being held for ransom in Latin America, the Phillipines, and other countries. And the U.S. government should not pay off these captors. For practical and moral reasons, paying such ransoms is a very bad idea. It encourages future captures, it gives the captors monetary resources, and it costs the U.S. taxpayer.

muhammad billy bob / September 16, 2010 1:19 PM

Billy Bob,

I am sorry, but you are talking about the obvious.
This regime would not be in existence if it did not have any followers. Even by the regime's own admission their support base does not amount to more than 5%-10% at most and it is obvious they are holding onto power at gun point. There is no doubt this regime is falling apart and before your very eyes.
What is your point? It took some 65 years for the Soviets. What about the American history and its many conflicts? They were not weekend affairs, were they? Please try to be less emotional and more logical in the future.

To my fellow countrymen,

Many Iranian Americans would like to stand by Sarah's family and provide them with some financial assistance in order to ease the financial pressure caused by the amount of ransom the family had to make available to gain her release. We know U.S. government refused to provide the funds. Any amount within your means is appreciated. Please try to figure out how you can help them.

Niloofar / September 16, 2010 10:21 PM

Niloofar,

I don't understand why you think my arguement is emotional. It is quite logical.

Your statement that 5-10% of Iranians are the support base of the IR seems to be very misleading. Where do you get such figures? 10% of a population is not capable of controlling the other 90%, by gun point, or any other means. The other 90% may not be "true believers" but a large portion of them must enable the regime in numberous ways. In ways that are obvious as you stated, and I breifly touched on in my posts.Even given the election irregularities, much more than 10% voted for the current government in the last election, did they not?

Finally, it is not known that the Shroud family paid any of the ransom. It has been reported that the government of Oman paid all the ransom. At least some of which will probably be repaid by the U.S. in the form of free services.

muhammad billy bob / September 17, 2010 3:20 AM

Niloofar, Alal, and others,

I am an ameican who lives in the U.S. where 99% of "my people" disagree with the founding ideals of the U.S. and of my beliefs. 99% of americans have shown, over and over again, they approve of indiviuals' being denied liberty.

This is a fact. It does not bring me happiness, but I can aknowledge that it does exist.

My question is why is it so hard for you to believe that there is a great many Iranians that are also interested in denying liberty to others? Surely, you have known many of your fellow countrymen and women of this thought. Why have you left Iran? If not for the other peoples in Iran?

I am not saying 100% or even 50%, but a very large portion. Iranians, like alot of others in the world, find comfort in being on the "winning side". And at the moment the winning side in Iran is oppressive and brutal. It is not pleasant, but many of the people we know are capable of quite terrible things. Especially, when they are encouraged by those in authority.

muhammad billy bob / September 17, 2010 3:59 AM

M Billy Bob

tell that to my employee's son-in-law. He has been imprisoned now for 9 months, with no answer. Why? because the courts are full and it takes that long. That's a real life experience. Again, you make assumptions without asking. Nothing replaces real life experience.

Did you google Yemen and US war? did you watch Farreec Zackaria's show, GPS, this past weekend. They were talking about expansion of the war into Yemen. No, sir, no false statements. I encourage you to investigate before becoming determined. Thanks.

Pouya / September 17, 2010 10:33 AM

M. Billy Bob

I think your point is well taken, there is support for this regime, but as Niloofar has said it is in the minimum. The most optimistic is 20%. However, there is that silent middle. In the past, people like Ahmadinejad have been able to use nationalistic themes to sway them. He did a good job of it leading to the election. But as I have said in the past, the post-election violence, I think, broke the last straw. That was definitely a watershed moment. I think many have been turned off. I am awaiting to see how far this will affect the regime. Once that silent middle decides to get up and do something about this regime, everything will change. That's the big question. Until then, Iran has to take responsibility for its own actions. I agree with you.

pouya / September 17, 2010 10:49 AM

M billy BOB

minority in within any society is as you say, IRGC and all the relatives old and young a are minority of 5-10%

my argument is that because of that minority one shouldn't insult the majority..get it now?

so maybe i can also say shame on Americans because Americans wanted to burn a holy book and they keep killing ppl in a so called holy war...

Alal / September 17, 2010 1:11 PM

Pouya,

I have alot of personal, first hand, expierence with the INS and U.S. law regarding detention of foreign aliens. I volunteer at the local Hispanic community outreach center to translate. And most of the translation involves such issues. My wife is an immigrant from Ecuador. My sister-in-law is a soon to be U.S. citizen from Italy. As I said alot of personal expierence.

Anyway, what are the specifics of this man's case? I take it he is refusing to return to his home country? And he has received no information on bail or a court date from a magistrate? Usually a magistrate will show up at the jail within an hour of detention assign or deny bail, and set a court date within one or two months. During most business days a magistrate is already at the jail when the detainee arrives. It is not in any way common for someone to spend 1-3 years in jail, even if they are fighting deportation. Afterall, the jails are way over crowded as well, and they do not want to house any more people than they have to. And once again what does this have to do with the hikers in Iran? Obviously, they desperately want to be deported from Iran.

I agree with you that it is the silent middle that will determine the fate of Iran. Most people will not act against the status quo unless it dramatically effects their everyday life. This regime has obviously dramatically effected everyones' lives for 30 years. Just in my opinion, and I may be wrong, I don't think the events of the last year are any more dramaticlly life changing for that silent middle. Maybe as Nilfoor suggested they need another 35 years to reach that breaking point. I, unfortunately, see more similarities in Iran to the events of China in '89 than the collapse of the Soviet block in Europe. Iran, like China in '89, have the supporters who are willing to do anything to their fellow countrymen to maintain the regime. I think it is rather obvious that the Iranian dictators are trying to pattern themselves after the Chinese dictators. Trying to give that silent middle just enough economic freedom that they won't revolt over the social freedoms they do not have.

muhammad billy bob / September 17, 2010 6:05 PM

Pouya,

Your reference to the 'silent majority' is absolutely right. The last statistics out of Iran broke the population’s political inclination down to 6% Pro Hard line, 14% Pro Reform of the Islamic establishment for a total of 20% who favor an Islamic form of state in various sorts and the rest or the silent majority who would like to see a major change.

Billy Bob,

When I started to post my thoughts on this site I expressed my views in the same manner as you. It took me a while to realize a different approach by others does not necessarily reflect a disagreement on the final objective.

Are you an American Billy Bob? So am I. That is the only life I have known, but I love my Iranian heritage and Iranians in general and I care about the future of Iran.

I truly resent it when people go out of their way to demonize Iranians. Let’s look at the demonized Japanese or Germans. What happened to these nations right after the removal of the source of earthly demons from their countries Billy Bob? MAGIC, magic Billy Bob. They rose to the highest standards and became the envy of others including the United States.
Please, let's focus on the root cause and refrain from senseless statements like, "It seems 'most' people in Iran would be very happy with such a result."

I bet you a good portion of Iranians received a distorted version of the story at best. Remember, we chose to call it ransom when they called it bail.

U.S. government’s position is quite correct. If they pay a dime today, they will be paying forever. If the government of Oman provided the funds, it was a noble act on their part. My information is that the family has to pay it back.

Niloofar / September 17, 2010 8:53 PM

I agree with others stating there is something fishy about this story that doesn't smell right - weird acting relatives in the media, goofy videos and past photos, the rapid creation of freethehikers.com website, the hikers ages, appearances, and the fact that "one" in their hiking party was never caught because he stayed behind due to illness, yet we have never seem him since in the media. Obviously the Iranians think they are spies requiring a prolongued interrogation process. Hiking seems like a weak cover developed in case they were caught. I even think the engagement of the girl to her fiancee is a pre-determined deception implemented to expedite release from captivity.

After following the story since it's inception it's my opinion these three are intelligence operatives, either of the U.S or they were recruited agents of another country, i.e. Jordan or Israel.

cryxus / September 19, 2010 4:38 AM

@cryxus

"After following the story since it's inception it's my opinion these three are intelligence operatives, either of the U.S or they were recruited agents of another country, i.e. Jordan or Israel. "

really!!! Jordan, israel,US?? why not add Iraq? they were at Iraq Iran border, no??? what about syria and turkey???? why not China and Russia???
may be YOU are a spy. I hiked near US-Canada border last week. may be I am a spy.

Your opinion is based on Pure speculation. only silly gossip and idiotic speculation.
we are talking about people in Evin prison. your gossiping may be fun in your Junior high girlfriends circle...but untill you know what you are talking about, please shut it.

Anonymous / September 20, 2010 1:47 AM

I had not heard from Pirouz for a while. Since the economy is bad In Iran, I thought he may have been off the IR payroll!! Pirouz, you're comparing Khalid Sheik Mohammed to the three yuppies?? Really?? I hope they pay you well. Lets see: 1 masterminded the 911 attacks while the others were kiddnapped by the IR, while hiking!!

As for the executions, the arrests the beatings, the kiddnappings etc., oh yeah the stonings, it is true, the IR regime is responsible for all that. However, shame on the Iranian people for allowing this crazies to stay in power as long as they have.

Freedom isn't free. It isn't cheap either. actually it is very expensive. It takes blood and guts to overthrow a regime, specially a backward, brutal one as the IR.

AG / September 20, 2010 12:00 PM

cryxus,

I do not know how you've "followed" this story, but your conclusions couldn't be any further from the truth.

There have been many, many articles regrading the hikers.

For those not willing to take the time to search, I'll give the highlights. All three are graduates of Cal-Berkley. Perhaps the most leftist college in the U.S. They were all very active in leftists causes. Ms. Shroud and Mr. Bauer met organizing anti-U.S. protests to the Iraq-U.S. war. Mr. Fattal, their freind, is where the hiking came in. He is a leftist environmentalists. While working as an environmental teacher in Europe he decided to join his friends, who were living together in Syria.

These are people, like typical leftists in the U.S., who are quite anti-U.S. policy. As Ms. Shroud wrote in an article "Everyday I feel ashamed of what my country done to their country". These are people who are very much opposed to the CIA, or other intellegence services from U.S. allies.

What I've always thought is interesting, is these are the very kind of people that the Iranian government could count on as supporters inside the U.S. These are people that will support any such regime, as long as they remain so anti-U.S. This is the same type of political thought that supported the Soviets, Cuba (they probably had posters of Che in their dorm rooms) and any other anti- U.S. group they could read about in The Nation.

Yet the Iranian government goes out of their way to antagonize them.

muhammad billy bob / September 20, 2010 6:13 PM

Niloofar,

I do not really like the term american. I think it's not very accurate. American can mean anyone from South or North America. I am a citizen of the U.S. But, I consider myself a North Carolinian more than any thing else. And even within North Carolina, there are 3 major areas of lifestyles and political thoughts.

I agree that one should not demonize a people. And I should not have written "most". A more accurate statement would have been that "a majority" would be perfectly happy with the "Islamic Republic" with a human face.

The majority of the German people did vote and support the Nazi party. The majority of the Japanese people did support the example of their god/emperor. What is even more depressing, is that everyone in the world today is still influenced by the oppressive political thoughts of that era. We are all still effected by the thoughts of socialists, communists, facists, and nationalists. All believed that "the group" was more important than the individual. That the nation, the people, god, the party,etc. should be served by the individual. And this political thought is still strong around the world. Especially in the U.S., the political thought is to favor "my group" over "their group".

We have all been conditioned to think that anyone who questions "our group" is out to destroy us. But this is just more of the oppressive political thoughts of the "groups". I am just as horrified at the "thank god I'm an american" crowd as I am at the crowd at the Friday prayers in Iran that applaud the rediculious statements of the mullahs.

We should all question the group. The majority of the group is often wrong. Most of the time, they are wrong because they are putting the group ahead of the individual.

muhammad billy bob / September 20, 2010 7:12 PM

M Billy Bob

I totally agree with your example of China. You are right to point out the regime has done enough to keep the silent majority silient. That is the reason why I constantly say Sahimi is misleading the public and represents an extreme view of Iran. The regime has a mixed picture of achievements and shortfalls. I think for America to devise a sound policy we need to walk away from caricaturization of Iran and really deal with what is on the grounds. One does not get that picture when reading Sahimi and his cohorts. He obviously is well invested in the Greens-in-Diaspora. Such articles consistently mislead the public and give a wrong picture. We must recognize Iran is a complex nation like China, it is not N. Korea. I also believe like China, last year's events sent a clear message to the Iranian leadership, but like the Tianemen Square it will be remembered as a failed movement for the reasons I repeatedly pointed out. America's policy has to be complex and engaging, as our policy with China. That's what's frustrating to me.

Pouya / September 22, 2010 12:21 PM

Alal,

I see your point that you think only 5-10% are true believers of the IR. But do you see my point that 5-10% can not under any circumstances force 90-95% of the rest into anything? Even given the probably election fraud, Ahmedinejad received much more than 5-10% of the vote, did he not?

Pouya,

We are getting a little into previous discussions, about previous topics. But I'm willing to discuss the issues you raised here. First of all, all nations are complex. Even N. Korea is comprised of millions of individuals, with many different political thoughts. America's policy towards other nations does not have to be complex or engaging, though. This thought is what has gotten the U.S. way too involved in other nation's affairs. The only sane approach the U.S. should have to other nations is "leave us alone, and we'll leave you alone". The most important engagements should be between individuals. Free trade to provide the Iranian people what they desire to purchase. Free trade to provide the Iranian people political thoughts from others than their own government. If the Iranian government wishes to deny this trade and differing thoughts to be presented to it's citizens, it's up to the Iranian people to address. Not the U.S. government.

But, on a realistic note, the U.S. policy will not likely resemble this any time soon. There was a very recent poll of americans that showed an overwhelming majority did not want U.S. military action against Iran in anyway. Even if Israel was attacked, the vast majority said the U.S. should not involve it's military. But, there is no desire among americans to not mettle in Iranian affairs to some degree. Mostly, by denying U.S. citizens from trading freely with Iranians. And denying Iranians to invest in U.S. companies.

muhammad billy bob / September 22, 2010 6:54 PM

M Billy Bob

those points are well taken, but it does not address what I was saying because it expresses your desire of how things should be when I am say what IS wrong and how we are being mislead. I see no disagreements with your desired goals. We'll leave it as that.

Let us be clear that there is no sanctions imposed by the Iranian government on Iranian companies and entities to do business in the US. There are no restriction on Iranians from traveling abroad. People can leave as they please, and many do. Although many have difficulting obtaining visas to some western nations.

Pouya / September 23, 2010 12:21 PM

Pouya,

Sorry, but you're last paragraph is also pretty misleading.

Let's be clear. The Iranian government does not allow Iranian companies to even exist , if they do not support the IR party line. Passing sanctions against itself would be kind of odd for a government to do. The increasing numbers of Iranian diplomats around the world seeking asylum would suggest that there are restrictions on Iranians abroad.

Which gets us back to the orginal topic. The Iranian government has very little respect for people in general. Even if these hiker entered Iran (about which there are questions), why are they still being held 1 year later? Why have there been no court dates set? Why was "bail" set for Ms. Shroud, with no court date set for her to return to reclaim that bail, if she was crazy enough to re-enter the country?

The reason is pretty obvious. The Iranian legal "system" is not in any way rational, objective, or fair. It is used as intimidiation.

muhammad billy bob / September 24, 2010 7:00 PM

M billy bob

.."""Alal,

I see your point that you think only 5-10% are true believers of the IR. But do you see my point that 5-10% can not under any circumstances force 90-95% of the rest into anything? Even given the probably election fraud, Ahmedinejad received much more than 5-10% of the vote, did he not?
"""..

as said before you just annoy me....educate yourself then comment here..!!

Alal / September 26, 2010 4:34 PM

What about tens or even hundreds of Iranian men and women who are being abducted from countries around the world and brought to US and put in the prisons without giving them any fair trials or even any chance for their families to visit them?

Just as an example check for Shahrzad mir-Qolikhan who is mother of two small girls.

mohsen / November 8, 2010 8:29 PM