Two U.S. hikers were released on $500,000 bail for each today after being caught crossing from Iraq into Iran on a hiking trip. The two hikers were sentenced to 8 years in prison for espionage and illegal entry into Iran. Josh Fattal (Fattal) and Shane Bauer (Bauer) will be released from Tehran’s Evin prison according to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, after their families come up with the money. Fattal and Baue have been in Tehran’s Evin prison for more than two years.
The two men apparently strayed across an unmarked border and were unaware they had crossed into Iran. Iranian authorities arrested them, claiming they were spies and had entered the country illegally.
The United States is working through a Swiss representative to find out more information and secure Fattal and Baue’s release because the U.S. has no diplomatic relations with Iran. There has been a call by Ahmadinejad for the U.S. to release Iranians being held hostage and for American politicians and leaders to be less hostile against Iran.
It is unclear as to the real reason Fattal and Baue crossed into Iran, was it really a mistake made while hiking or were Fattal and Baue working for the U.S. Government? The Tehran Prosecutor’s office claims to have compelling evidence that the hikers were cooperating with U.S. intelligence agencies. Both Fattal and Baue were convicted and sentenced to 8 years in prison, 5 for espionage and 3 for illegal entry. The attorney representing the two has appealed the sentence.
Ahmadinejad mentions that he is working to get these men released. Is he trying to sound like a humanitarian? Does asking for $500,000 each for bail sound like a humanitarian gesture? If the hikers were really spies for the U.S. and it was true that there was “compelling evidence” against them wouldn’t Ahmadinejad be more hostile towards the U.S. Government?