Nation writer Shane Bauer and his friends have been detained by Iran for almost 100 days. A fourth member of their party appeals directly to Iran’s president for their release.
H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
November 2, 2009
Dear Mr. President,
I am writing to appeal to you to intercede with the appropriate authorities for the immediate release of my friends Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal from detention in Iran.
I traveled from Damascus to Iraqi Kurdistan on vacation with Shane, Sarah and Josh in July. Several of our friends in Damascus had previously visited northern Iraq and recommended that we too make the trip to a region they told us was beautiful, peaceful and safe. We set out the day after celebrating the wedding of local friends at Shane and Sarah’s apartment and had planned to be away for one week. That was three months ago.
Had I not had a cold and remained behind at our hotel when my friends hiked to the Ahmed Awa waterfall near your country’s border, I would undoubtedly be in detention with them now. I was, in fact, en route to meet them when I received Shane’s call that they had been taken into custody.
On August 6, I published a statement about our trip to northern Iraq which I attach to this letter. I had hoped the statement might clarify why we were in the area and help the authorities understand that Shane, Sarah and Josh had no intention of entering Iran. As I said in that statement, if they did so, it was because of a simple and very regrettable mistake.
Since then, I have maintained silence in deference to the investigation. As much as my friends’ absence has been acutely painful, I understood that investigators would want to clarify the circumstances of their trip. I had hoped that the misunderstanding would be resolved quickly. Three months have now passed, and I cannot imagine what more the Iranian authorities might have to learn about my friends or what they were doing in the area. To help put to rest any such questions, I would like to offer to submit a notarized statement to your country’s mission to the United Nations vouching for my friends and detailing the circumstances of our trip. If this is not sufficient, I would be willing to come to Tehran to attest to their characters in person.
Mr. President, by continuing to deprive Shane, Sarah and Josh of their liberty, Iran is working against some of the very causes it supports. Each of these three has a long and public record of contesting injustice in the world and addressing some of the inequities between rich and poor which you have spoken about through their humanitarian work in their own country and overseas.