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In ironic twist, Iran detained US hikers critical of Israel and America

Just before Iran arrested three US hikers a year ago Saturday, one of them – Shane Bauer – had nearly finished an exposé on Israeli military aggression.

By Danna HarmanCorrespondent / July 30, 2010

American hikers Shane Bauer, left, Sarah Shourd, center, and Josh Fattal, sit at the Esteghlal Hotel in Tehran, Iran, in this May 20 file photo.

Press TV/AP/File



Just before Iran arrested US hikers Shane Bauer and his friends a year ago, he was nearly finished with an exposé on the Israeli army's use of illegal weapons against protesters.

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“He would have published it long ago if he had not been arrested," says his friend Shon Meckfessel. "You would say the Iranians are standing in the way.”

In an ironic twist, Iran appears to have arrested a trio of passionate young Americans who espouse some of the same causes as Iran itself, particularly taking a stand against United States and Israeli aggression.

Mr. Bauer, an Arabic-speaking journalist, had previously exposed pitfalls in the US strategy in Iraq. His fiancée Sarah Shourd was teaching Iraqi refugee children in Syria, where an estimated 2 million Iraqis fled during the US-led war in their country. And their college friend Josh Fattal had fought to get military recruiters off United States campuses.

Just weeks before the three were taken captive, says Mr. Meckfessel, they were in Israel to visit another friend, US activist Tristan Anderson. Shortly after taking photos during a demonstration against the Israeli separation barrier, Mr. Anderson was shot with a teargas canister in the head by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and hospitalized in Israel for a year.

“Often, when checking the Iranian press to see if there is any news about my friends, I have seen coverage of Tristan’s situation, which is, of course, very sympathetic … They see him as a hero for standing up to Israeli and US aggressions,” says Meckfessel. “The irony is they are celebrating Tristan as a hero, but holding his like-minded friends as spies.”

Meckfessel's account of the hiking trip

A year ago, the four friends had set out from Syria, where they were volunteering to help Palestinian refugees, on a hiking trip to Kurdistan, in Northern Iraq, recounts Meckfessel.