Hikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Moderator: HAZ - Moderators

Linked Guides none
Linked Areas none
Post Reply
User avatar
azdesertfather
Posts: 783
Joined: Apr 30 2008 9:57 am
City, State: Tucson, AZ
Contact:

Hikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by azdesertfather »

Talk about a bad time to find yourself "off trail"!! Yikes...
Detained: Hikers in wrong place, wrong time
Aug 4, 12:34 AM EDT

By JASON DEAREN and MICHELLE LOCKE
Associated Press Writer


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Freelance journalist Shane Bauer planned to cover the elections in northern Iraq's self-ruled Kurdish region. His girlfriend, Sarah Shourd, was going with him on a backpacking trip. Another friend stayed put, under the weather with a cold.

Now, Bauer, Shourd and a third companion, Joshua Fattal, are believed to be held by Iranian authorities for crossing into Iranian territory illegally. Friends and family say the group were adventuresome travelers who accidentally stumbled into the wrong place at the wrong time.

Pacific News Service Executive Director Sandy Close, who hired Bauer to cover the elections in Kurdistan, said she does not believe the freelance journalist ever intended to go to neighboring Iran.

In an e-mail, Bauer told Close he wanted to "feel out the situation (in Kurdistan) and get some ideas for deeper stories."

"Kurdistan is the big story in Iraq now," Bauer wrote in the e-mail provided to The Associated Press. "I'm off to Kurdistan ... "

The status of the three remained unknown Monday despite efforts by Swiss diplomats to obtain details from the Iranian Foreign Minister. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also appealed to Iran for information.

Their disappearances were reminiscent of other episodes involving young American journalists who ended up in hostile territory.

Earlier this year, two American journalists detained near the North Korean border with China were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for entering the country illegally and for "hostile acts." And in January, Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi was arrested on spying charges before being released in May.

Close said Bauer sent her e-mails on Monday and Wednesday, then went backpacking with Shourd in a popular tourist area renowned for its scenery. It was unclear how the two met up with Fattal.

A fourth member of the group, Shon Meckfessel, was to have gone on the hike but did not because he felt sick.

Close said Bauer wouldn't have deliberately tried to enter Iran.

"He did not express any interest in going to Iran. He did not speak Farsi, his passion was Arabic," she said.

Bauer has traveled to the Middle East and North Africa and was most recently based in Damascus where he is working on a film about Darfur.

Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey of Pine City, Minn., and Shourd's mother, Nora Shourd, said they are concerned for the safety and welfare of the group and hope they return safely.

Fattal's father, Jacob, who runs a tech magazine outside Philadelphia, also told reporters: "All we care about is the well-being of Josh and his two hiker friends," he said.

A Kurdish official in Iraq has said the three contacted a colleague to say they had entered Iran by mistake on Friday and were surrounded by troops. Iran's state television later said the Americans were arrested after they did not heed warnings from Iranian border guards.

Bauer and Shourd, both graduates of the University of California, Berkeley, had been living in the San Francisco Bay area. Close described Bauer as "an artist whose first love is photography. He's also linguistically gifted and just wanted to immerse himself in the Middle East."

One of the articles posted on Bauer's Web site is a piece written for The Nation about the U.S.-backed Iraq Special Operations Force. Richard Kim, senior editor of the magazine, praised Bauer, saying "he did excellent and meticulous work on that article."

Kim said Bauer is not currently on assignment for The Nation.

Shourd has written for a number of online publications, including Brave New Traveler. She has also has taught English.

Ross Borden, founder of an online travel magazine that includes Brave New Traveler, described Shourd as "very professional. She wrote a great story for us."

"She's obviously a professional traveler, as you can see by her latest adventure, going hiking in Iraq," he said. "Not many people go hiking in Iraq."

Fattal spent three years recently living with a group dedicated to sustainable farming near Cottage Grove, Ore. He lived with about nine others and worked as the group's intern coordinator before leaving about eight months ago, according to Jason Brown, who now holds Fattal's job.

From January to June, Fattal traveled overseas as a teaching assistant with the International Honors Program, visiting Switzerland, India, South Africa and China on a global ecology program. Fattal had been a student in the program during college, president Joan Tiffany said.

"He's a very thoughtful, caring person, soft-spoken, smart, bright. Has lots of travel experience, and is someone that I would expect to be an experienced camper," Tiffany said.

Meckfessel, a University of Washington graduate student, has traveled widely and was studying Arabic.

He is the author of a book about the Balkans called "Suffled How It Gush: A North American Anarchist in the Balkans." The title is derived from the slogan of an Albanian mineral water company.

His grandmother, Irene Meckfessel described her grandson as "very much interested in people and languages."
Last edited by azdesertfather on Aug 04 2009 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." — Henry David Thoreau
User avatar
azbackpackr
Posts: 8278
Joined: Jan 21 2006 6:46 am
City, State: Flagstaff AZ

Re: Bikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by azbackpackr »

Hope they are released. Your title said bikers, though. I don't think they had bikes.
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.
User avatar
PaleoRob
Posts: 2342
Joined: Apr 03 2006 12:21 pm
City, State: Grand Junction, CO
Contact:

Re: Bikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by PaleoRob »

I wonder what they were thinking...
"I heard about this great waterfall, bro!"
"Yeah, where is it?"
"Its right near the border of Iraq and Iran."
"Oh sweet, I hear that area is super cool."
"Yeah, but isn't it dangerous or something?"
"Naw bro, don't worry about it. Nothing bad every happens to Americans in Iraq or Iran!"

None the less, tough situation. Here's hoping they're able to get released soon.
"The only thing we did was wrong was staying in the wilderness to long...the only thing we did was right was the day we started to fight..."
-Old Spiritual
My book, The Marauders on Lulu and Amazon
User avatar
Jeffshadows
Posts: 2590
Joined: Jan 30 2008 8:46 am
City, State: Old Pueblo

Re: Bikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by Jeffshadows »

They're lucky that the Iranians are the ones who "detained" them and not one of the hundreds of militias or mjuahadeen groups running around.
AD-AVGVSTA-PER-ANGVSTA
User avatar
big_load
Posts: 4543
Joined: Oct 28 2003 11:20 am
City, State: Andover, NJ

Re: Bikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by big_load »

Events like this bother me. The people who get caught seem not to realize or care about the cost in taxpayer dollars and political chips required to secure their release. The freedom of such knuckleheads is hardly worth conceding anything to Iran or North Korea (in the similar ongoing incident), even if it's only PR.
User avatar
Jeffshadows
Posts: 2590
Joined: Jan 30 2008 8:46 am
City, State: Old Pueblo

Re: Bikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by Jeffshadows »

big_load wrote:Events like this bother me. The people who get caught seem not to realize or care about the cost in taxpayer dollars and political chips required to secure their release. The freedom of such knuckleheads is hardly worth conceding anything to Iran or North Korea (in the similar ongoing incident), even if it's only PR.
Agreed. Presumably, they were aware of this before they went (It should be common sense, if not):

Travel Warning
United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520

This information is current as of today, Tue Aug 04 2009 10:04:08 GMT-0700 (US Mountain Standard Time).
IRAQ

June 15, 2009

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the dangers inherent in travel to Iraq and recommends against all but essential travel in country given the fluid security situation. Numerous insurgent groups remain active throughout Iraq. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)-led military operations continue, and attacks persist against the ISF and U.S. forces in many areas of the country. Turkish government forces have carried out operations against elements of the Kongra-Gel terrorist group (KGK, formerly Kurdistan Worker's Party or PKK) located along Iraq's northern border. This Travel Warning warns U.S. citizens of the current security situation and reiterates the dangers of the use of civilian aircraft and of road travel within Iraq. This replaces the Travel Warning of June 13, 2008, to provide an update on security incidents and additional concerns about travel within Iraq.

<snip>

Northern Iraq
The security situation in Sulymaniya, Erbil, and Dohuk Governorates in northern Iraq has been relatively more stable than the rest of Iraq in recent years, but violence persists and conditions could deteriorate quickly. Even though there have been fewer terrorist attacks and lower levels of insurgent violence in Sulymaniya, Erbil, and Dohuk than in other parts of Iraq, the security situation throughout the country remains fluid. Violence associated with the status of Kirkuk is likely to continue, at least within Kirkuk. Insurgent groups continue to operate across the north. In 2008, multiple incidents occurred in Sulymaniya, Erbil, and Dohuk involving IEDs, rocket and mortar fire, vehicle bombs, and shootings, though none resulted in U.S. casualties. While many parts of northern Iraq have become more stable, Mosul continues to experience intense violence and instability.
AD-AVGVSTA-PER-ANGVSTA
User avatar
azdesertfather
Posts: 783
Joined: Apr 30 2008 9:57 am
City, State: Tucson, AZ
Contact:

Re: Bikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by azdesertfather »

azbackpackr wrote:Hope they are released. Your title said bikers, though. I don't think they had bikes.
Ah! Thanks for the heads up. Whenever I post something from my iPhone I have to be SO careful, as it will take words correctly spelled and automatically misspell them for me :roll: How nice...

Fixed the spelling in the title
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." — Henry David Thoreau
User avatar
nonot
Posts: 2086
Joined: Nov 18 2005 11:52 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Bikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by nonot »

Who says this was an accident? Perhaps they are trying to create publicity to push an agenda? Been done before.
http://hikearizona.com/garmin_maps.php

Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, ankle-twisting, HAZmaster crushing ROCKS!!
Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, shin-stabbing, skin-shredding plants!
Hike Arizona it is full of striking, biting, stabbing, venomous wildlife!
User avatar
big_load
Posts: 4543
Joined: Oct 28 2003 11:20 am
City, State: Andover, NJ

Re: Bikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by big_load »

nonot wrote:Who says this was an accident? Perhaps they are trying to create publicity to push an agenda? Been done before.
I wouldn't rule it out. I'd best not say what I think about that.
User avatar
azbackpackr
Posts: 8278
Joined: Jan 21 2006 6:46 am
City, State: Flagstaff AZ

Re: Bikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by azbackpackr »

dshillis wrote:Whenever I post something from my iPhone I have to be SO careful, as it will take words correctly spelled and automatically misspell them for me :roll: How nice.
Sheesh, now that would annoy me! It won't let you turn that feature off??
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.
User avatar
Jeffshadows
Posts: 2590
Joined: Jan 30 2008 8:46 am
City, State: Old Pueblo

Re: Bikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by Jeffshadows »

dshillis wrote:
azbackpackr wrote:Hope they are released. Your title said bikers, though. I don't think they had bikes.
Ah! Thanks for the heads up. Whenever I post something from my iPhone I have to be SO careful, as it will take words correctly spelled and automatically misspell them for me :roll: How nice...

Fixed the spelling in the title
That's especially aggravating when sending text messages, I've noticed...
AD-AVGVSTA-PER-ANGVSTA
User avatar
dysfunction
Posts: 599
Joined: Dec 20 2008 7:38 pm
City, State: Tucson, AZ

Re: Hikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by dysfunction »

You can turn that off in Settings > General > Keyboard.. at least in 3.0
mike

"Solvitur ambulando" or maybe by brewers.
User avatar
cabel
Posts: 45
Joined: Nov 13 2005 6:36 pm
City, State: Cave Creek, AZ

Re: Hikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by cabel »

Send Bill Clinton in.....he is into rescue right now.
All who wander are not lost...just me.
User avatar
Jeffshadows
Posts: 2590
Joined: Jan 30 2008 8:46 am
City, State: Old Pueblo

Re: Bikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by Jeffshadows »

nonot wrote:Who says this was an accident? Perhaps they are trying to create publicity to push an agenda? Been done before.
You thinking it might have something to do with the elections? I just saw that they were "Journalism" students. Hmm...
AD-AVGVSTA-PER-ANGVSTA
User avatar
Davis2001r6
Posts: 506
Joined: Dec 06 2003 3:27 am
City, State: Bordeaux, France
Contact:

Re: Hikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by Davis2001r6 »

Not really sure what would make someone want to visit there. Your pretty much at your own risk IMO over there.
User avatar
DarthStiller
Posts: 881
Joined: Jul 05 2006 12:36 pm
City, State: Mesa, AZ

Re: Hikers in Iraq detained by Iranians

Post by DarthStiller »

It does seem odd that they were freelance journalists and just happened to get caught miles over the border. I just hiked in Serbia (also not the most stable country politically) right up to the border of Bulgaria, and it was very well marked. In a lot of cases, a border between two countries is actually formed by some geographical formation, such as a river, ridgeline, etc. This doesn’t mean that was the case where they were, but I don’t believe the border between those two countries has been contested or changed recently, so I would tend to guess that it should have been marked. Even my sparse GPS mapping showed the borders of all the countries, but again, that doesn’t mean that these guys had one.
Post Reply

Return to “Missing Hikers”