American hikers held in Iran

Parker Fox, Staff Writer

     American Sarah Shourd returned to the United States on Sunday after being detained in an Iranian prison since July 2009.  Two other Americans, Shane Bauer and Scott Fattal, are still in custody.

     The three friends were hiking along the Iraq-Iran border and accidentally crossed into Iran.  They were surrounded by Iranian military forces and have been held in prison ever since.  Iranian officials claimed to believe the three are spies.  Both Bauer and Fattal are still being held.

     East Lake sophomore Sebastion Hilpl said, “It’s pretty hard to imagine being in a prison in a third world country.  I think it would be ten times worse than American prison.”

     Officials in nearby Oman negotiated bail for Shourd for $500,000 due to her medical condition.  She is in poor health and is believed to have a cancerous lump in her breasts.  She was also suffering from depression.

     Before boarding her flight for the United States, Shourd asked the American public to “extend your prayers” to the other hikers still being held captive.  

     Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated that he hoped the United States will release Iranian captives being held in the United States.  Iranian officials report eleven Iranians who are currently being detained.  This could be used as a bargaining tool to release the two other Americans. 

     “I guess it’s only fair that they won’t release the captives until we release theirs,” said East Lake sophomore Danny Havican.

     American-Iranian relations are fragile due to American interference in Iran’s development of a nuclear program and economic sanctions imposed against Iran.  The Iranian government is unlikely to release the captives unless given an obvious reason to do so.  It is a concern that the captives could be used as a bargaining chip for the U.S. to stop interfering with the nuclear program. 

     Shourd has since met with Ahmadinejad to plead for the release of her friends.  Shroud said it was “a very human encounter, very personal.”

     Shourd spent most of her time in captivity in solitary confinement.