American hikers: ‘Why we were held in Iran so long’ (photos, video)
NEW YORK, NY — The two American hikers, graduates from the University of California at Berkeley here in the San Francisco Bay Area, have now landed in New York. (See article here: Two American hikers reach American soil (photos, video))
“It’s time for them to be home,” says San Francisco resident, Dale Champion.
A top news report from USA Today is saying that the two hikers, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were given “a taste of the Iranian regime’s brutality,” during their 2 years in captivity.
Why they were held captive
Shane Bauer, age 29, a freelance journalist from Minnesota, said he and Fattal were held captive simply because they were American, not because they really were suspected of spying.
Bauer said: “No evidence was ever presented against us because there was no evidence and we were completely innocent.”
Even when the news came of the hikers being set free, most people in the U.S. were skeptical (See that article here: American hikers lawyer: hikers to be freed today …)
Bauer and his friend, Josh Fattal, 29, an environmental activist who grew up in Pennsylvania, were in prison in Iran after they allegedly crossed over the Iran-Iraq border two years ago. A third hiker, Sarah Shourd, who became engaged to Bauer when they were all in prison, was let go on humanitarian grounds last year. She was there to meet Bauer and Fattal once they arrived in Oman.
See a slideshow of pictures of the American hikers here
After two years in jail, the men were recently given 8 years in prison on charges of espionage and crossing the border illegally. They were finally freed on Wednesday, however, after the country of Oman posted $1 million in bail for them, according to USA Today,
The American hikers were normally given 15 minutes of exercise and then blindfolded and returned to their cells, but on Wednesday, instead, they were given street clothes, fingerprinted and handed over to representatives from Oman who told the hikers, “Let’s go home.”
Bauer and Fattal had no idea they were going to be set free.
A world of false hope
“In prison, we lived in a world of lies and false hopes,” says Fattal.
In their 781 days in prison, Bauer and Fatal were given just 5 minutes of phone calls and one short visit with their mothers. They had to go on hunger strikes to try to get their letters from family members, but they were told their families had stopped writing to them, a statement which wasn’t true, said Fattal to press.
When asked if they really had crossed the unmarked border into Iran, Bauer said the hikers didn’t know.
“But even if we did,” he replied, “that has never been the reason why the Iranians authorities held us in prison for so long. The only explanation is 32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran.”
Right now, though, according to Bauer “We want more than anything to begin our lives anew and with a new appreciation for the sweet taste of freedom.”
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Source: USA Today
See these related articles on the American hikers by this Examiner:
Sarah Shourd, freed American hiker, gets medical exam (photos, video
Finally: American hikers may be released within days (photos, video)
Sarah Shourd, American hiker released, who posted bail? (video)
Sarah Shourd mother makes statement, American hiker released
Iran releases American hiker Sarah Shourd, leaves Iran
American hikers, 8-year sentence, how do the families feel? (photos, video)
American hikers unjustly held in Iran – US calls for release
American hikers get 8 years, are they a bargaining chip? (photos, video)