SEARCH

Entries in American Hikers (22)

Monday
Sep262011

Freed American Hikers Say They 'Were Held Hostage'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The two U.S. hikers imprisoned in Iran for the past two years, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, said they were "held hostage" because they were American.

Fattal and Bauer spoke publicly Sunday about the details of their imprisonment for the first time since regaining their freedom last week.

At a New York City hotel, each man read prepared statements discussing what they endured in Iranian prison and thanking those who fought for their release.

"Many times, too many times, we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten and there was nothing we could do to help them," Fattal said.  "How can we forgive the Iranian government when it continues to imprison so many other innocent people and prisoners of conscience?"

Bauer said one irony in the case was that they opposed the U.S. policy toward Iran which they believe was the impetus for their arrest and detention.

Fattal and Bauer arrived in New York before noon and addressed the media just under five hours later.

The two had spoken earlier in Oman, which had played a key part in the negotiations of the hikers' release.

"We hope someday to return to this wonderful country but for now we are eager to go home at last," Fattal said.

Oman is the same place that their companion Sarah Shourd went when she was freed from Iran nearly a year ago to the day.

Shourd was in Oman to greet Fattal and give a long welcoming kiss to her fiancée, Bauer.

"We will never forget the excitement of seeing our loved ones waiting for us at the foot of the plane.  The joy of embracing them all after so long will stay with us forever," Bauer said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep232011

After Hikers' Release, US Pressures Iran on Other Missing American

Last known photo of Bob Levinson is shown on the left with computer generated imaging showing what he may look like today on the right. helpboblevinson.com(WASHINGTON) -- After more than four years of negotiating for information about the disappearance of U.S. citizen and former FBI agent Robert Levinson during a business trip on Iran's southern coast, U.S. officials are hopeful this week's release of two American hikers will now shine a spotlight on the cold case.

"We have reason to believe he's still alive," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. "Let's keep the pressure on the government of Iran to release another American."

Nelson is urging U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to address Levinson's whereabouts at the United Nations General Assembly this week, attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad followed news of the hikers' release -- which he told ABC News was a "humanitarian gesture" by Iran -- by blasting the U.S. and its allies in his address Thursday to the general assembly and suggesting the Holocaust and Sept. 11 attacks were Western conspiracies.

A U.S. State Department official told ABC News they are working with and pressing the Iranian government for information on Levinson.

"We're overjoyed with the release of [the American hikers] and we really want to see Mr. Levinson come home," the official said.

Levinson, a married father of seven from Florida, was last seen March 9, 2007, while he was on a business trip working for a private investigative firm in Kish Island. According to associates, Levinson had traveled to Kish to meet with an American fugitive accused of murdering a former Iranian official in suburban Washington in 1980. U.S. authorities said he was last seen after checking into a local hotel for the meeting. In March, Clinton said there were indications that he is still alive and being held somewhere in southeast Asia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep222011

US Hikers Freed from Iran Arrive in Oman

ABC News(MUSCAT, Oman) -- Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, the two U.S. hikers imprisoned in Iran for the past two years, sprinted to freedom Wednesday down the steps of a Royal Omani Air Force jet onto a tarmac in Muscat, Oman.

Looking healthy and upbeat, they were greeted by family and friends in an emotional scrum of smiles, hugs and tears, and a long kiss between Bauer and his fiancee, Sarah Shourd, a fellow American prisoner in Iran until one year ago this week.

"We are so happy we are free and so relieved we are free," Fattal, detained in Iran since 2009, told reporters upon arriving.  "Our deepest gratitude to his majesty [Omani King] Sultan Qaboos [bin Said Al Said] for obtaining our release.  We are sincerely grateful to the government of Oman for hosting us and our families."

Fattal, Bauer and Shourd were arrested two years ago while hiking along Iran's unmarked border with Iraq.  They were accused of spying, and last month Fattal and Bauer were sentenced to eight years in prison.

"Two years in prison is too long," Bauer told reporters, "and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran."

The hikers' families have described the freeing of Bauer and Fattal as "the best day of our lives."

President Obama also hailed the development.

"I welcome the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal from detention in Iran and am very pleased that they are being reunited with their loved ones," Obama said in a written statement.  "The tireless advocacy of their families over these two years has won my admiration, and is now coming to an end with Josh and Shane back in their arms.  All Americans join their families and friends in celebrating their long-awaited return home."

The men's release ends two years of diplomatic wrangling and, more recently, weeks of political infighting, as Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the country's judiciary argued about freeing the Americans.

Bauer and Fattal were released after an Iranian judge who had twice delayed their release signed an order Wednesday to free the men following deposits of $500,000 bail each.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep212011

American Hikers Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal Released from Iranian Prison

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- After being held in Iran for more than two years on espionage charges, American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were finally released from jail on Wednesday.

The two will now be handed over to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which handles American interests in Iran since the U.S. doesn't have an embassy there, before they are flown back to the U.S.

Earlier Wednesday, Bauer and Fattal's attorney, Masoud Shafii, got the second judge's signature -- needed on their release order -- paving the way for their combined $1 million bail to be processed.

The hikers' release marks a public relations victory for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.  Ahmadinejad had hoped the two would be freed in time for his trip to the United Nations, and even promised their release last week.

Bauer and Fattal have been in Iran's Evin prison since July 31, 2009.  Iranian authorities claimed the two had illegally crossed over into their territory while they were hiking in northern Iraq, and charged them with spying for the U.S.

Sarah Shourd, a third hiker and Bauer's fiancée, was also detained then but was released after posting $500,000 bail in September of 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep212011

Second Iranian Judge Signs American Hikers' Release Order

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two Americans hikers who have been jailed in Iran for over two years, could be released as early as Wednesday.

The news comes as a second judge signed their release order on Wednesday.  The day before, the judge had not returned from vacation and was not at court when the hikers' lawyer, Masoud Shafii, showed up for the signature.

Shafii told ABC News the only thing left to process now is the $500,000 bail for each of his clients, which could be completed in a matter of hours.

Bauer and Fattal have been detained in Iran since July 31, 2009 for espionage.  After crossing an unmarked border while hiking in northern Iraq, Iranian authorities claimed the two had illegally crossed over into their territory and charged them with spying for the U.S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep212011

Iranian President Ahmadinejad Guarantees Hikers’ Release

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that the two imprisoned hikers, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, will soon be released “as a humanitarian gesture” from Iran where they have been held for more than two years.
 
“I did say within the next few days and I still say the same thing.  And God willing they will be released very soon,” he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos after landing in New York to attend a meeting at the U.N General Assembly.

Just last week, Ahmadinejad announced that the two Americans would be released on $1,000,000 bail.  When that was delayed, there was hope they would be freed on Tuesday.  But the Iranian judges played politics -- apparently not wanting to give their rival Ahmadinejad a victory, the judge needed to sign the release order was not back in court as expected.

When asked if members of the members of the judiciary are determined to embarrass you and prevent the release of those hikers while you’re here in the United States

"There is no problem.  There is a judicial process that has to be completed and hopefully it will be, God willing," the Iranian president said, responding to Stephanopoulos' comment that members of the judiciary are determined to embarrass him and prevent the hikers' release while he's in the U.S.

As far as guaranteeing that Fattal and Bauer will come to the U.S., Ahmadinejad said, "Yes, we act upon whatever we say.  And if we don’t want to act, we won’t say it."

"But when we said we will release them, we will release them, as a humanitarian gesture," he added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep202011

American Hikers Fail to Get Needed Signature from Iranian Judge

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- One week after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two detained American hikers are still no closer to going home.

In yet another setback, the hikers' lawyer, Masoud Shafii, on Tuesday was unable to get the second signature required on their release order.

Shafii had been told the second judge -- needed to sign the document -- was back from vacation, but when Shafii showed up at court, the judge had still not returned.  Shafii was then told not to come back until he's summoned by the court.

Ahmadinejad was hoping the release of Bauer and Fattal would be in congruence to his trip to the United Nations this week.  The Iranian president is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.

The hikers' release would have been a public relations victory for Ahmadinejad, especially while he's on the world stage.  But his political rivals in Iran are blocking it, and sources there tell ABC News it's unlikely the hikers will be released before he leaves New York at the end of this week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Hillary Clinton Optimistic Iran Will Release Hikers

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The United States has received word from public and private sources that Iran intends to release two American hikers who have been detained there for more than two years and convicted of spying, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday.

Clinton was optimistic when asked about recent delays that threaten their release, which some experts see as a power struggle between Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who promised their release in an interview with NBC News’ Ann Curry on Tuesday, and Iran’s Justice Ministry, which is more influenced by the country’s supreme leader.

“We continue to hope that the two young Americans will be released as part of a humanitarian gesture by the Iranian government,” Clinton told reporters in San Francisco, where she and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were meeting with their Australian counterparts.

She dismissed the delays, saying they’ve seen the same thing happen in other cases, as well.

“We have seen in the past some delays that have occurred after decisions were announced, so that at this point we are not at all concerned,” Clinton said, “because we have received word through a number of sources, publicly and privately, that the decision will be executed on and that we will see their return to their families.”

Clinton’s willingness to discuss the delicate subject of the hikers’ release -- which appeared to be subject to internal power plays not only within Iran but also among Iran’s neighbors, which may seek to exert regional influence -- was all the more striking because her spokesman was unwilling to even comment on the topic earlier in the week.

The country of Oman, which helped secure the release of a third hiker last year, sent a plane to Tehran this week and remains engaged in negotiations to free the two Americans. Iraqi leaders are also playing a role in negotiations, officials said on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Swiss diplomats, who represent the United States in Tehran because it does not have an embassy there, are also involved.

Clinton refused, however, to guess why roadblocks have emerged.

“I’m not going to speculate on what the reasons are or what it might mean or might not mean, but I’m going to count on the Iranian government fulfilling the announcement that was made by the leadership of the country and hope that it can be expedited and we can see their release very soon,” she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep142011

Iran's Judiciary Still Reviewing Bail Deal for American Hikers

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran's judiciary is still reviewing the bail deal for detained American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, ABC News has confirmed.

On Tuesday, ABC News learned that bail had been set for the two men at $500,000 each.  Their lawyer, Masoud Shafii, told ABC News that as soon as his clients could get the money together, they would be released from jail.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was hoping for the hikers' release before his trip to the U.N. next week, also expressed in an interview aired on Tuesday that the hikers would be released in a couple of days.

But that may not be possible.  Thursday and Friday are not working days for judges in Iran, so the necessary paperwork may not be completed before Saturday.

Bauer and Fattal have been detained in Iran since July 31, 2009 for espionage.  After crossing an unmarked border while hiking in northern Iraq, Iranian authorities claimed the two had illegally crossed over into their territory and charged them with spying for the U.S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep132011

Iran to Release American Hikers this Week? Bail Set at $500K Each

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- ABC News has learned that bail has been set for detained American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal at $500,000 each.

Their lawyer, Masoud Shafie, told ABC News that as soon as his clients can get the money together, they will be released from Iran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed in an interview slated to air Tuesday morning that the hikers will be released in two days.  However, sources tell ABC News it remains unclear whether the president can accomplish this, since he cannot do it on his own authority.  It's understood Ahmadinejad would like to see it happen in advance of his trip to the U.N. next week.

Bauer and Fattal were imprisoned on July 31, 2009 after crossing an unmarked border while hiking in northern Iraq.  Iranian authorities claimed the two had illegally crossed over into their territory and charged them with spying for the U.S.

Sarah Shourd, a third hiker and Bauer's fiancée, was also detained then but was released by Iranian authorities after posting $500,000 bail in September of 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio