Shane Bauer is one of three Americans held in Iran. See updates below - breaking 11-09-09.
Update 12-14-09 below. Update 9-15-10: Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd became engaged while in Evin prison in Tehran. Yesterday, Sarah was released and reunited with her mother, Nora Shourd, in Oman, Jordan.
Joshua Fattal is a resident of Eugene, Oregon. Read more about Mr. Fattal here.
Ms. Shourd is a writer and a contributor to New America Media, and Matador Pulse. According to NWCN.com, is said to be from "the Bay area." There is a Facebook profile for a Sarah Shroud from California who is a "teacher/writer at Iraqi Students Project Connections." The profile also says Ms. Shourd is "currently based in the Middle East." See more on Ms. Shourd here. Shon Meckfessel is a resident of Seattle and a PhD student at the University of Washington. Shon Meckfessel's Facebook profile is here showing Sarah Shourd and Shane Michael Bauer as "friends."
All four Americans had traveled to Turkey and entered the Kurdish region at the Zakho crossing on Tuesday, July 28th. Iran's media says the trio was arrested for illegally crossing the border on July 31th, at about 1:30 p.m. Iraq time. The hikers were able to call Meckfessel and say they were surrounded by Iranian troops. Earlier reports say that Meckfessel then left his hotel unannounced, leaving luggage behind. Shon Meckfessel's family say they have heard from him and he is safe inside the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Local sources in Iraq said they warned the hikers that the area they planned to hike was very close to the Iran-Iraq border.
Kurdish officials from the self-ruled region in northern Iraq said the three people detained had mistakenly crossed into Iranian territory Friday while hiking in a mountainous area near the resort town of Ahmed Awaa. Iraq's Kurdish region has been relatively free of the violence that plagues the rest of Iraq. Foreigners often feel freer to move around without security guards in the area, and it's relatively easy to enter the region from Turkey, particularly by plane. The Kurdish government generally grants visitors visas valid for one week when they arrive at the airport.The area where the hikers were detained is said to a beautiful area and a popular hiking destination:
...known for a picturesque waterfall and rocky scenery as well as a thick growth of fruit and nut trees. The official said camping equipment and two backpacks apparently belonging to the Americans were found in the area and it seemed they were hiking above the waterfall when they accidentally crossed the border.What appears to be Mr. Bauer's website is ShaneBauer.net. Read articles written by Mr. Bauer here. Titles include Iraq's New Death Squad, Muslims in Syria Like Ombama's Tone But Want New Policy, Al-Qaeda Violence Rises as U.S. Strategy Unravels in Iraq, Blast in Iraq Not News Anymore, A Day in the Green Zone, among others. Update 8-2-09 1:45 pm CDT: From Mr. Bauer's website:
Shane Bauer is a freelance journalist and photographer based in the Middle East. A fluent speaker of Arabic, his work has largely focused on the Middle East and North Africa, where he has spent much of the past six years. He is a Middle East correspondent for New America Media and his work has been published in the US, UK, Middle East, and Canada including outlets such as the L.A. Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, Le Monde Diplomatique (German edition), Slate.com, Aljazeera.net, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, Democracy Now!, E: The Environmental Magazine, and Black Entertainment Television.
He is currently finishing a film about rebels in Darfur entitled “Songs to Enemies and Deserts.” A short version of the project has been distributed by and Wholphin DVD Magazine and was aired on Current TV. He was born in Minnesota and graduated with honors from UC Berkeley with a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies.Update 8-3-09 9:25 a.m.:
diplomats are hoping to meet in Tehran today with the Iranian foreign ministry to discuss the release of the Americans.
Announced today that Shroud, Fattal and Bauer are accused of "espionage," and they will be put on trial in Iran.
It is not clear from his comments whether formal charges have been filed. In Iran's judicial system, the process of charging and trying suspects often takes place behind closed doors.Update 12-14-09:
Shroud, Fattal and Bauer will be tried by Iran's judiciary but no timeline was given. The three Americans are still being "interrogated," and are held under suspicion of espionage.
Bauer and Shourd had been living in Damascus, Syria - he studying Arabic, she teaching English - and both had done freelance journalism or writing online. Friends have described them as passionate adventurers interested in the Middle East and human rights.
Fattal, who spent three years with a group dedicated to sustainable farming near Cottage Grove, Oregon, had been overseas since January as a teaching assistant with the International Honors Program.
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