Free them all

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New York Times – Editorial: After imprisoning three Americans for more than one year, Iran raised and then dashed hopes that it would release one of them, Sarah Shourd, on Saturday. All three should be freed. Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal and Ms. Shourd have lived lives of fear and depravation in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison for far too long.

The New York Times

Editorial

After imprisoning three Americans for more than one year, Iran raised and then dashed hopes that it would release one of them, Sarah Shourd, on Saturday. All three should be freed. Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal and Ms. Shourd have lived lives of fear and depravation in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison for far too long.

The Americans were arrested in July 2009 along Iran’s border with Iraq. Their families say they were hiking in the mountains of northern Iraq. The Nation, a magazine for which Mr. Bauer worked as a freelancer, recently reported interviewing witnesses who said the hikers were in Iraq when they were detained.

Iranian officials have claimed the three were spying in Iran but have offered no proof. According to the hikers’ Iranian lawyer, the court file and the judge handling the case both say they are formally accused of “illegal border crossing,” a far lesser charge. Under Iranian law, that calls for a cash penalty — not jail time.

Since their detention, the Americans have been denied access to their lawyer and allowed only one telephone call to their families and one visit from their mothers. There are concerns about the health of Ms. Shourd, who has been forced to spend 23 hours a day in solitary confinement.

According to news reports, the Iranians had planned to release Ms. Shourd to recognize the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan but then canceled because the “legal process” was not complete. It is common in the Muslim world to celebrate the Id al-Fitr holiday by showing clemency to prisoners. The three should never have been arrested. Clemency and justice should be applied to them all.

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