Investigative Fund reporter Shane Bauer and his companion Josh Fattal have now been imprisoned in Tehran for nearly 21 months. The two were arrested while hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan with Shane’s fianceé, Sarah Shourd, who was compassionately released last fall. Iran has accused the three of espionage, an entirely baseless claim, and of illegally crossing the border into Iran. An independent investigation by The Investigative Fund and The Nationfound that the three only crossed into Iran after being instructed to do so at gunpoint by border guards.
On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, a number of the editors and reporters who have had the good fortune of working with Shane have released an appeal to Iran to free Shane and Josh. The statement appears in full below.
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On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day we call on the government and judicial authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release our colleague Shane Bauer and his friend Josh Fattal, an environmental educator, after more than 21 months of detention.
Shane, 28, is a talented freelance reporter and photographer whose work for a variety of news organizations has helped Americans better understand the impact of U.S. policy in the Middle East. While based in Damascus, Syria, for a year before his arrest, Shane, a fluent Arabic speaker, reported sensitively and incisively from Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Previously, he’d reported from Darfur and Ethiopia. At the time of his arrest, he was preparing a report about the Israeli military’s suspected misuse of nonlethal weapons in the West Bank.
We have no doubt that the charges of espionage Iranian prosecutors have leveled against Shane and Josh are entirely unfounded. Shane and Josh were on vacation with Shane’s fiancée Sarah Shourd when the three were arrested during a hiking trip in Iraqi Kurdistan near the border with Iran. Sarah was compassionately released last fall, but Shane and Josh are still being wrongfully denied their freedom.
Shane is not being held prisoner because of his work as a journalist. But Shane was traveling in Iraq because he had previously done extensive and revelatory reporting there, exposing, for example, large-scale U.S. bribery of influential sheikhs in Iraq and human rights abuses by Iraq’s U.S.-trained Special Operations Forces.
As editors and reporters who have worked closely with Shane and admire his work, we firmly believe that his detention is unjust. We call on Iran to release Shane and Josh immediately.
Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, co-editors, Mother Jones, San Francisco, CA
Sandy Close, executive editor and director, New America Media, San Francisco, CA
Jack Epstein, foreign editor, San Francisco Chronicle
Esther Kaplan, editor, The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, New York, NY
Vlae Kershner, news director, SFGate, the website of San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, CA
Richard Kim, executive editor, The Nation, New York, NY
Tim Redmond, executive editor, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco, CA
Robert Rosenthal, executive director, Center for Investigative Reporting, Berkeley, CA
Joel Simon, executive director, Committee to Protect Journalists, New York, NY
A.C. Thompson, staff reporter, ProPublica, New York, NY