RAMALLAH, March 9 (JMCC) - In February, two American hikers picked up in 2009 by Iranian security forces in the mountains along the Iraq-Iran border went on trial for espionage.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have been held in prison in Tehran as the Iranian government seeks to bargain with the United States for their release. A third hiker, Sarah Shourd, was released on $500,000 bail and has refused to return to Iran for trial, thereby forfeiting the money put up for her release.
Journalist Jesse Rosenfeld met with
yet a fourth hiker (one who stayed at the hotel that fateful day). Shon Meckfessel said the group had visited Iraq after a trip to the occupied Palestinian territories
Meckfessel talked about how prior to the trip to Iraq the three were in Israel and the Occupied Territories, visiting long-time friend Tristan Anderson in hospital. Anderson was critically injured when an Israeli soldier shot him in the head with a high-velocity tear-gas canister during an anti-wall demonstration in the West Bank town of Nalin. He has been featured several times on Iran's foreign service Press TV network as an international solidarity activist hero, however his close friendship to the jailed hikers and his pleas for Bauer and Fattal's release have not.
I find it astounding that over a year and half into this that Iran as well as western media coverage have utterly neglected the considerable evidence to the reason for our presence in the region, being our long public record of our critical journalism and education in the region, Meckfessel said over the phone just after the first hearing of the trial.
Shourd, Fattal, and Bauer, according to Meckfessel, had made close connections with people in the West Bank popular struggles against Israel's wall in the town of Bilin and the family of Bassem and Jahwar Abu Rahmah. Bassem was killed in April 2009 after being shot in the stomach by a tear gas canister during a demonstration, while Jahwar died on January 1, 2011 resulting from heavy teargas exposure during a demonstration the previous day.
Meckfessel highlighted that at the time of their arrest, Bauer -- a critical journalist in the Middle East -- was finishing an article on the effect of Israel's use of the American made high-velocity teargas canisters on the Palestinian anti-wall struggles. The story was never published due to Bauer's detainment.