American hikers face charges in Iran

New York, August 5, 2009–The Committee to Protect Journalists called today for the release of three Americans–one of whom is a journalist–who were arrested on July 31 in Iran. The three have been charged with illegally entering the country. 

The New York Times quoted an Iranian security official as saying that the Americans have been arrested for “illegal entry” into Iran from the northern Iraqi Kurdish region along the Iraq-Iran border. The three were reportedly on a hiking trip.

Among the three is Shane Bauer, a photojournalist who lives in Damascus, Syria, who has worked for several news organizations including The Nation, New America Media, and Al-Jazeera. The other two are Sarah Shourd, a writer and teacher, and environmentalist Joshua Fattal, according to international news reports.

Sandy Close, executive director of the San Francisco-based Pacific News Service, told The Associated Press that Bauer had planned to cover post-election events in the Kurdish region.

Iran is the world’s leading jailer of journalists with 36 in jail.