New York Times – Editorial: The American hikers Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal have spent 755 days in Iran’s brutal Evin prison. They never should have been arrested, much less held for so long.
The New York Times
The American hikers Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal have spent 755 days in Iran’s brutal Evin prison. They never should have been arrested, much less held for so long. With the Muslim world celebrating the holy month of Ramadan, Iranian officials should show compassion, and true respect for justice, and let them return home.
Senior Iranian officials have repeatedly raised expectations that the two men would be released “soon.” Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said he hoped their trial “will proceed in a manner that will result in their freedom.” But, on Saturday, after a show trial, judicial authorities unjustly sentenced the two Americans to eight years in prison for illegal entry and espionage.
Sarah Shourd, Mr. Bauer’s fiancée, who was held for 14 months before being released, has said that the three accidentally crossed a poorly marked border from Iraq, and only because a border guard gestured for them to approach. As for the charge of espionage, Iran has never offered one iota of evidence to prove its claim. Last November, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the secretary general of Iran’s government-controlled High Council for Human Rights, told NBC News that the hikers might not be spies.
When Ms. Shourd was released last September on medical grounds (and $500,000 bail), we were cautiously optimistic that Tehran might be searching for a way to end this cruel and misguided episode. Iran’s leaders claim that the case is in the hands of the judiciary and that the judiciary is independent, but there is no doubt that it is being manipulated for political ends.
Bad blood between Washington and Tehran is certainly one factor, and Iran’s leaders may have hoped to use the two men as bargaining chips. The case also appears to be caught up in the bitter infighting among Iranian leadership factions that is making the government increasingly dysfunctional. Regardless, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has the power to let them go.
There is no legitimate excuse not to. Mr. Bauer and Mr. Fattal should be freed immediately.