On Trial in Iran

This week, Americans Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and Sarah Shourd are scheduled to be tried in Iran on charges related to spying.  In July of 2009 the three were hiking in Kurdistan and crossed the border into Iran.  They were captured and incarcerated.

On September 10, 2010, Sarah Shroud was released on $500,000 bail.  Shane Bauer and Joshua Fatal remain in the Evin prison in Tehran.  Despite Shroud’s absence, the trial is expected to commence this week.

Iranian judge Abolghasem Salavati will preside over the trial.  Of concern to the families of Bauer and Fattal is the Judge’s history of doling out brutal sentences.  The judge recently issued death sentences to defendants who were convicted of protesting after the 2009 Iranian presidential elections.

After over a year of silence and inaction on the part of Iran, critics speculate that the scheduling of the trial date is connected to the recent announcement that the Security Council plans to meet regarding the progress of Iran’s nuclear program.

Should the Security Council bear in mind that this meeting may affect the future of Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer?  Should the United States encourage the Security Council to refrain from imposing additional sanctions in order to protect the two individuals?


  1. If Iran’s strategic plan is to use hostages as leverage in trying to obtain favorable UN decisions, I think we are past the point of sanctions. While the U.S. needs to actively monitor the trial of the hikers, I don’t think that the Security Council is the appropriate place to lobby for their release. It must be a horrible feeling for the families and friends of the hikers to see their loved ones caught in the middle of a political conflict, the strength that they have shown is amazing. While the hikers will hopefully be released and return home soon, the next group of innocent victims are the citizens of Iran.

  2. It is unfair that the hikers are being used as Political bait and that there loved ones must sit there and watch it. The U.S. must get involoved in the trial but I don’t think that the Security Council must bear all the responsibility. Although the Security Council is aware of Iran’s political climate, it cannot let this overly influence its decisions otherwise Iran will continue to use innocent people as hostages in order to get favorable results by the Council. This issue has happened in the past and may continue if the U.S. does not take the appropriate measures to have the hikers return home. As a policy matter, when a nation violates fundamental notions of fairness, this sends a strong message as its position in the global economy. Developed nations cannot sit there and pretend that nothing is going on.

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