UPDATE - 21st August 2011:
Shane Bauer & Josh Fattal have each been sentenced to 8 years in jail in Iran.
Tehran prosecutor confirmed that Iran has sentenced two American hikers to eight years in prison each for illegal entry & espionage.
Amnesty International renewed calls for their immediate release, - “The conduct of this trial has quite simply made a mockery of justice... The way this case has been handled from the outset strongly suggests that they are being held as a bargaining chip to allow Iran to obtain unspecified concessions from the US government,” said Malcolm Smart, AI's Middle East Director.
Sarah related how a guard in Evin Prison pushed Josh Fattal down stairs because he was furious that he took extra food and then repeatedly threw his friend Shane Bauer against the wall of his cell until his head began to bleed, according to Sarah Shourd.
She also said the three friends feared they would be executed a few days after their arrest more than 22 months ago when a soldier who was guarding them began cocking his weapon.
Sarah she had no way of knowing what may have happened to Shane and Josh since her release. “My worst fear is that they’re not safe – especially when we haven’t seen them for so long.”
In a recent phone call from Shane and Josh to their families - the third phone call in nearly 2 years - they reported that they had been on a 17-day hunger strike because Iranian officials were not passing on letters to them.
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Sarah Shourd, her fiancé Shane Bauer, and their friend Josh Fattal, were detained by Iranian guards on 31st July, 2009 when on holiday in Iraqi Kurdistan.
All three were imprisoned in Iran and have been charged with espionage.
At the time, the Iraqi regional security chief in Sulaymaniyah, Hakim Qadir Humat Jan, said the area is poorly marked and the three simply lost their bearings…
"They came as tourists. Nothing about the way they were travelling points to a possibility of spying. Their financial situation was also weak — they travelled in a crowded bus and stayed at a cheap hotel — and they entered Kurdistan legally... I call on the Iranians to set them free."
The security chief added that the mountainous area where the Americans were arrested contains dense foliage and narrow trails, and it's difficult to make out where Iraqi Kurdistan ends and Iran begins.
Nearly 15 months later, Sarah Shourd was released on bail, after spending the entire time in solitary confinement.
The two men are still in Evin Prison, despite appeals for their release from numerous leading figures, including Archbishop Desmond TuTu, President Obama and American Muslim leaders.
Sarah, despite suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is dedicated to campaigning for her friends. Sarah suffers from insomnia, hyper-vigilance, extreme stress and nightmares - as a result of her treatment in prison, and her ongoing anxiety about Shane and Josh.
The two men were initially held in solitary confinement. For nearly 18 months, they have been sharing a small cell together for 23 hours a day.
They are held virtually incommunicado, with no medical care and with artificial lights permanently on.
They receive letters but are unable to send any. They have only been allowed three short phone calls and are denied access to their lawyer.
They recently went on hunger strike for 17 days when Iranian officials stopped delivering letters family letters to them.
The Iranian Regime announced last summer, before Sarah's release, that the trial would soon be starting. The trial did not in fact begin until February this year, in a closed-door session. The second session, scheduled for May, was postponed without explanation and no further date has been set.
Shane is an independent freelance photojournalist. His articles were frequently published by Al Jazeera.
Josh is an environmental teacher.
In statements relating to Shane and Josh, Amnesty International has twice warned that holding foreign nationals without due legal process amounts to hostage taking.
Shane and Josh's continued detention contravenes both international and Iranian law.
Sarah was told by her interrogator, early on in her detention in Evin Prison, that it didn’t matter whether they were innocent or not: ‘This is bigger than you – this has become political.”
Masoud Shafii, the families' Iranian lawyer has commented:
“I don’t wish to express political opinions. But anyone who knows basic things about politics would know that if these individuals were spies, the US government would have made a more serious effort for them....Additionally, there is no evidence that would support their being spies. So, in such a case, normal legal routes must be taken."
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