Wednesday, September 21, 2011

American Hikers Go Free


Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal have spent the last two years in an Iranian jail, but this morning bailed their way out and were set to return to the United States. The pair had been hiking along the Iran-Iraq border with Bauer's soon to be wife, Sarah Shourd, when they were arrested and charged with espionage. Sarah made bail last year, but the other two had to suffer through another year.

I am not sure why anyone would actually want to go hiking there or along that particular border. Everyone has always proclaimed their innocence, but who wakes up one morning and says, "You know what we should do today?" "No, not go to the movies. Lets go hiking along the Iran-Iraq border."

39 comments:

Vicki Cupper said...

I say we let them rot when they get arrested playing volleyball on the DMZ.

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

Unless you are part of the Armenian diaspora of 1914-1918, I can't see why you'd be hiking along the Iranian-Iraqi border either.

That said, I'm THRILLED the hikers are released! That's tremendous news!

Rita said...

That's the problem with taking Freedom for granted sometimes, pickled with ignorance and arrogance: when you visit another country, you must realize that you are leaving your freedom behind, and must abide by customs that rule the country you are visiting.

Although I remember the challenge in the 80's of going to the Tibetan borders, and trekking through China, always kept in mind that the world does not abide by my laws; the same applies when invited to someone's house, you be polite, abide by their rules, and leave your shoes at the door if that's what they expect in their home. Don't like it, don't accept the invitation.

Patty said...

They could have picked any place in the whole wide world, and they choose that??!! Almost deserve that time in jail for being so stupid.

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

LMAO @ Vicki Cupper!

annabella9 said...

I always thought it was a little fishy, as what american goes hiking in either iraq or iran?

now they will get their book deal and a few million and of course a movie will be made.

Vicki Cupper said...

Almost, my ass, Patty. Rita's right.

They remind me of that stupid chick that went wandering around the most dangerous neighborhood in South Africa by herself because she thought nobody would hurt an American. Guess how her story ended?

RocketQueen said...

What Rita said.

RocketQueen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth said...

They never realized how close they were to the border when they were hiking. Also, they were in Kurdistan, which is the safest and, currently, the most prosperous part of Iraq.

Not everyone likes to go to Florida for their hols.

Personally, if I were given the choice of Miami or Kurdistan, I'd probably take the latter.

Beth said...

That said, they definitely were ignorant for not realizing they were THAT close to the border. A little more research on their part would have been good.

Rickatoo said...

well the hiking in Miami is really lousy, but if you're fishing in the straits and get too close to Cuba you're gonna find yourself surrounded by the Cuban military pretty quickly.

Beth said...

Well, I've always wanted to visit Cuba.

Rita said...

Rickatoo, quite funny and well said. There are still parts of the world where the military freak out when they see Americans along their borders. What am I saying, let me rephrase: there are many parts of the world... Sadly.

bluebonnetmom said...

I just think they are guilty of being pretty damned stupid. Glad they have been released. : )

parissucksliterally said...

thank goodness!

diatribes and dish said...

Happy they're released, but come on. There are a million other places to hike in the world, many more beautiful ... Why tempt fate?

Feisty said...

They went hiking there because it would make a really cool third world story to tell their hippie friends. "Iraq really is a beautiful country, it's a shame that...*random anecdote about innkeeper*"

They're young and stupid, although I think they're my age. I also doubt they know anyone who had been to Iraq. Out of my friends who served, one crazy one did make a point of going to Iraq as a tourist, but an Army Ranger isn't going to get treated the same as a tourist anywhere.

figgy said...

haha, exactly Feisty!!

There is that certain ilk of college age-ish young idealist who considers him/herself such a "citizen of the world" that they think it's very very cool to go to the most unlikely, un-vacation-spotty part of the world, spread peace 'n love 'n understanding by virtue of their Good American-ness, all whilst living on pennies a day, living out of a scrappy old backpack and wandering into local villages and charm the locals, all in hopes of landing a sweet gig writing for Lonely Planet.

Ordinarily, these kids end up with stories that can impress their profs and rewardingly shock their parents, and at worst maybe a case of worms. In this case, mmmm, bit worse. Same for the white girl walking alone in a South Africa township.

That said, yes, I'm very happy they're released. And we can expect the book in...3...2...1...

bloodonthescreen said...

Glad they are out and ALIVE but seriously, WHO THE F does this kind of crap? That's like me flea-marketing in Afghanistan. HELL to the NO.

selenakyle said...

I am glad for their families that they are out, BUT must ditto Enty on this one.

Who the EFF would be dumb enough to "hike" THERE? The whole thing was very, very sketchy, IMO. Like, maybe they were not spies, per se, but maybe trying to do some kind of journalism gig or something...?

selenakyle said...

I have been to Cuba and it's awesome. Hubby and I spent a week for our "illegal honeymoon" in Old Havana. cops were super nice and everyone was like "Hell, yeah!" because we were Americans taking the risk. It's our gov't who doesn't want us there...not the other way around. Actually, it is not us being there that is the problem with the fucking idiotic, outdated, arcane embargo, but rather our spending our money there.

Sorry, just my 2CW!)

Rickatoo said...

but you didn't drift across their border accidentally, did you?

weezy said...

They are certainly selfish brats, but elsewhere I've read there's thinking that they were CIA.

equinox said...

Blogger annabella9 said...

I always thought it was a little fishy, as what american goes hiking in either iraq or iran?

I totally agree.

GoGo said...

I live in Seattle (where these guys were students) and have friends at UW (where they were "students") and there has been alot of thoughts about this. Whilst I am glad they have been "bailed out," and I certainly do NOT believe they were spies, I REALLY think they were just stupid-ass, rich frat boys trying to just "see what would happen."
1) They ALL had cell phones and (I heard) a satellite phone, so they knew EXACTLY where they were;
2) Have you seen the area where they were caught? NOTHING e'en remotely picturesque there;
3) These were guys known for "pushing the envelope," especially at UW.
I think these guys just got drunk and wanted to start some shit and were caught and didn't realise the fuckery that would come down on their heads.
Hopefully, two years in an Iranian prison will make them realise how nice they had it here in Seattle.
Peace and Blessings to the "boys" and their families.

NYer said...

The satellite phone always raised a question for me, although I guess they may be routine for trekkers in remote areas these days.

KellyLynn said...

I don't think they were doing anything nefarious. Even with a satellite phone, it's easy to get off-course. I think these guys just trusted their instincts more than their tech, and got into trouble. It's not like boundary lines are well-marked out in the wilderness.

Kara said...

I'm sorry. I don't agree with most of you. Why not go somewhere completely different just for the hell of it?

I lived in Bulgaria in the mid-90's. We traveled through Serbia when it wasn't what you would call "safe". And Kosovo. I had a hell of time. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

I guess I'm saying, how do you know there isn't anything interesting there? The people? Some of the views? The challenge? Something???

Kinda judgmental today....

Jeri said...

I agree with Enty and everyone else. I'm glad they were released but do not get WTF they were doing there, except trying to be cool.

Hope no-one listens to their party suggestions.

Amy said...
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Amy said...
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RocketQueen said...

@Kara - why not? Because you might end up in an Iranian jail for two years. That's why.

Rita said...

@Kara, you stayed within your Continent. You probably also speak the language. If you get caught, you'll get deported most probably back to Bulgaria.

If an American was caught in Mexico, he/she would simply get deported back. If however an American is caught in one of the conflicted countries where America is considered the enemy, well, jail is the least of their problems. Anyone who ever read a newspaper in the US in the past 10 years knows that.

Anna Geletka said...

I've worked with satellite phones in the rural US (Wyoming and Montana) and they're hardly reliable. IF you have clear skies and IF there's more than one satellite available to triangulate your location, it still might be as much as half a mile off.

Do I think it's a bad idea to hike anywhere NEAR to the Iran/Iraq border? Yes. Is it possible that they really didn't know where they were? Also yes. But I do have the feeling that they just wanted to say that they'd crossed the border.

Squeezebox said...

According to military documents released by Wikileaks, these hikers were warned in advance by the US military in Iraq that their hiking plans exposed them to huge risk. They decided to go ahead anyway. That, and the fact that some of them had done work for a middle-east activist organization led the military to conclude that they were probably deliberately hoping to provoke an international incident.

The report also said that Iraqi villagers living near the border said that the hikers were in Iraq, and the Iranian border guards crossed the border, captured them, and marched them over the border into Iranian custody. Apparently the Iranian border guards habitually cross into Iraq and rob and assault the villagers.

I agree with the military assessment. If you've been warned by the military to stay out of an area, and you decide to go ahead and do it anyway, you're a fool. No sympathy.

Lelaina Pierce said...

Glad to hear they were released. I'm guessing they'll want to lay off the adventure travel for awhile.

Henriette said...

My husband is Iranian and said they were "stupid idiots." He knows the area where they were hiking, and even the natives don't hike there! There is nothing to see. Iran knew they weren't spies, but they knew they could use them for press AND to warn other dumb asses who had these "hiking" ideas.

Personally, it's nice they were freed, but I would not have lost sleep if Iran kept them for eight years.

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