Over two years ago, Nation writer Shane Bauer and his friends Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd were arrested by Iranian soldiers while hiking along the Iran-Iraq border and accused of trespassing and espionage. Eventually, Shourd was released on bail, but Fattal and Bauer were convicted in late August and sentenced to ten years in prison. Now, finally, it appears that their ordeal is approaching an end.
While speaking to NBC’s Ann Curry in Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that he would pardon Fattal and Bauer, freeing them in two days. The FARS state news agency also reports that Bauer and Fattal will be released on $500,000 bail each. Of course, we can't really celebrate until Bauer and Fattal are back with their families--but here at The Nation, we’re cautiously optimistic.
I’ll update this post as news develops. I’ve been thinking a lot about Shane throughout the Arab Spring. Fluent in Arabic, he was based in Damascus before his arrest. Among the many things lost to his incarceration is undoubtedly some excellent, insightful reporting from that part of the world. I can’t wait to make him an assignment.