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Extra: US Hikers' Case Will Be Heard by 'Judge of Death'

01 Oct 2010 07:3714 Comments


U.S. Hikers' Trial in Iran Set for November

Los Angeles Times | Oct 1

The two Americans still jailed in Iran on charges of espionage and trespassing won't be tried for at least five more weeks, their lawyer told The Times on Thursday.

Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal are due to appear before Judge Abolqasem Salavati on Nov. 6, the attorney said. The judge has handled many high-profile trials, especially since the political unrest that followed the 2009 presidential election, and has been dubbed the "hanging judge" by opposition and human rights activists. Most recently he sentenced Iranian Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan to 19 1/2 years in prison.

[On Thursday, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called for Salavati's suspension and international blacklisting. In the group's description, Salavati "has been one of only three judges in charge of post-election cases. He has sentenced more than a hundred political prisoners, human rights activists, and peaceful demonstrators to lengthy prison terms as well as doling out at least nine execution sentences, earning [him] the nickname 'The Judge of Death.'"]

The two men and their friend Sarah Shourd were arrested in July 2009 while on a hiking trip along the Iran-Iraq border and detained in Tehran's Evin Prison.

Attorney Massoud Shafii has been working to get Fattal and Bauer released on bail in a settlement similar to that reached for Shourd, who was freed Sept. 14 on $500,000 bail.

But Iranian officials have indicated that they will tie the men's release to that of eight Iranians they say are wrongly imprisoned in the United States or are in the process of being extradited to the U.S. from third countries.

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Who are these 8 Iranians? There has been lots of mentions by the Iranian government about "the 8 Iranians" but absolutely no information about who they are, what they are accused of, where they are, etc.

muhammad billy bob / October 1, 2010 8:37 PM

This is hustage taking, pure and simple.

Ahvaz / October 1, 2010 10:24 PM

In our Wednesday press roundup, we linked to this story, which in its second half lists the eight Iranians in question currently being held in the United States or liable for extradition (it also names a ninth, "believed to have been abducted and transferred to Israel").

Dan Geist / October 1, 2010 10:51 PM

The 8 Iranians were kidnapped in the sovereign state of Georgia and are being held by U.S. now.

Fair and Balanced / October 1, 2010 11:10 PM

شیوا هر جا باشی در قلب ملت جای داری ظلمان رفتنی هستند تو می مانی

ali dana / October 2, 2010 12:01 AM

Well, That was not very helpful. Raises more questions than gives answers.

That article was rather biased, and honestly, not informative. It did give names, which is a first. It did not give reasons why those people were in those countries, or why they were detained. According to that article, only 5 are detained in the U.S. Not all 8 as "fair and balanced" asserted. And according to the article only 4 were detained in Georgia.

And honestly, alot of the rhetoric of article leads me to not trust any of the info it gave. "U.S. backed government of Georgia", reference to Sharram Amiri as "abducted", with no mention of the very real possiblity that he defected, then changed his mind.

Not helpful. Where is the truth?

muhammad billy bob / October 2, 2010 12:52 AM

Fair and Balanced,

You clearly can't read. It seems all of those Iranians being held in the US, with the possible exception of the IRGC General who "disappeared" in Turkey (a possible defection), were simply arrested in the normal fashion and extradited to the US (where necessary) and charged with carrying out things like gun-running and nuclear-related stuff.

In contrast with those cases, it would appear there is nothing to suggest the three American hikers were doing anything other than hiking. Of course, they could be spies -- these things apparently do happen -- but in the absence of sufficient evidence of espionage, the actions of Iran are completely arbitrary, and more the actions of a brutal and paranoid regime than a civilized nation.

Since the Americans strayed into Iran, then Iran *was* entitled to arrest them and *is* entitled to punish them for that, but they've been held without trial for a long time now, apparently for the sole reason of using them as bargaining chips -- which they're *not* entitled to do. The reasonable thing to do would be to deport them to the US or (given the fact that they might have been spies, even if it can't be proven) give them a short jail sentence before releasing them. However, it seems most likely the sentence given will be long enough that they can continue to be used as bargaining chips for the foreseeable future: again, not the actions of a civilized nation.

Ian / October 2, 2010 2:30 AM

Ian and all,

Real spies fly into Tehran international airport complete with all documents and back stories needed. Most are probably former or current Iranian citizens with intimate relationships inside Iran. Relationships that will allow them to gather actual information.

The 3 hikers have none of these relationships. Only one of these hikers even spoke Arabic, and I don't think any of them spoke Farsi. They were all carrying their U.S. identity papers. If they are spies they are pretty bad ones.

muhammad billy bob / October 2, 2010 7:08 PM

Yes, many spies probably come through Tehran Intl Airport but not all. In the situation they are currently in, where war could be inflicted upon them including a nuclear strike (as per Obama's docrtine of making an exception of only Iran and N Korea where the US was prepared to make a pre-emptive nuclear strike) they need to be wary all round. If it had been Israel they would probably have been dead. Israelis do not take chances they kill first as with the civilians on the 'Freedom Flotilla' who were killed even though they were in international waters.

rezvan / October 3, 2010 12:49 AM

Muhammad Billy Bob, in your initial communication here you explicitly requested three sorts of information about the eight Iranians the Islamic Republic claims are being illegally detained by, or under threat of extradition to, the United States: "who they are, what they are accused of, where they are."

You were provided a link to a story that answered two of those three queries: who and where they are. It is ungracious of you to respond, "Well, That was not very helpful."

That said, you are certainly correct that it would be more helpful to have a clear picture of exactly what charges the eight individuals have been accused or convicted of. The information is scattered, but inspired by your observations, I have begun to compile a dossier. The next time the Iranian government publicizes the matter in a significant way, I'll run a background item summarizing what we know about each of the eight cases.

Dan Geist / October 3, 2010 5:10 AM

The rap is that one of the boy's family comes from that border area and that is why they were there. Spies? No, Jewish hostages from America - that is what this is all about - sanctity of life held by the west versus the cult of death made by the mullahs and IMMAGONNNEEDAJOB.

Like we say in the west, Immagonna freed the girl to look good abroad and will kill the boys to look good wit the mullahs.

Hitlerian doctrine still lives....

dan / October 3, 2010 3:15 PM

Dan Geist,

I'm sorry if you thought my reaction was ungracious. I do thank you for actual names.

But the rest was as I say, not very helpful. Even the locations were not very specific. One in Canada, a very large country, someone who's location is not known maybe abducted, etc.

It is greatly appreciated that you are performing a more exhaustive inquiry than I've seen elsewhere. I don't want to tell you how to do your business. But, one thing that struck me was that it was described that one of these 8 or 9 was held in a prison in Philadelphia. That particular case should be very easy to investigate. Someone in a prison inside the U.S. is relatively easy to gain information about. A few calls to the prison, a few calls to the prosecutors responsible and there are many questions answered.

Muhammad billy bob / October 3, 2010 11:44 PM


What possible information could these 3 hikers have possibly aquired? Satellites provide all the basic information to launch any kind attack. The only information not known by the U.S. is real, human information. Information like, will the Republican Guard fight back? What weapons programs are being developed in those buildings we see on our satellite images?

This is information that certainly could not be aquired by these 3 hikers. They have no background or education for such a task.

Try again. There is no way to give a reasonable explanation for the detention of these people.

muhammad billy bob / October 4, 2010 12:17 AM

I am very concerned that the trial won't be fair and that Iran has had plenty of time to come up with "evidence" to hold against the hikers. I also wonder how these male hikers have been treated since Sarah was released. Wouldn't be surprised if they're now in solitary confinement and being threatened or tortured.

Smiles / November 1, 2010 2:57 AM