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Entries in Shane Bauer (41)


Iran Analysis (We Told You So): Why the Trial of US Hikers Bauer and Fattal Has Been Postponed

As EA predicted in September, the trial of detained American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, scheduled for 6 November, has been postponed.

Officially, Iran's Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei is claiming that the trial could not proceed because of the absence of Sarah Shourd, who was detained with Fattal and Bauer in July 2009 when they were walking along the Iran-Iraq border: "Due to the absence of the third person, the court has delayed the trial time so that in between this time the third person can return to Iran or, in the event of her refusal to appear, her case be dealt with differently."

To be blunt, that is a very thin excuse. The cover for Shourd's release, arranged just before President Ahmadinejad's trip to New York, was that a $500,000 "guarantee" had been lodged that she would return for trial. Whether or not the money was actually placed in the control of Iran, that arrangement pretty much ensured that Shourd would not face further prosecution.

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The Latest from Iran (30 October): Happy Birthday, Mahmoud

2010 GMT: The Birthday Boy's Speech. A big finish to Saturday? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has tried to sell his subsidy cut plan in a nationally-televised interview by emphasising that cuts actually means receiving money.

Fars highlights the President's declaration that support payments of 81,000 tomans (about $80) every month will be paid to those on lower incomes.

IRNA goes another direction, emphasising Ahmadinejad's statement that the 1979 Islamic Revolution was the end of a dark era of history.

Press TV mentions the subsidy statement but prefers to lead with his comparison of Iran's progress --- "We have achieved many feats in agriculture, industry,...and science. We have made a leap. --- with the end of the West: "There is no hope in America and Europe."

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Iran Feature: Why It is Vital to Speak Out for the US Hostages

The not-so-new claim that three US hikers were taken by Iranian forces in Iraqi territory has been resurrected by this weekend's Wikileaks documents. This drama should not obscure the even more important matter: while Sarah Shourd has been released, Josh Bauer and Shane Fattal are still being held in Tehran as hostages.

At this hour, it is vital to the interests of the West and of Iran's citizens, not to mention an urgent matter for the hostages, that people open their mouths about them. The facts about those held on bogus charges in Iran's prisons, classifying them as hostages, as soon as possible. These cases need to be publicised and brought to the attention of the world so that it knows that Iran's leaders are not just committing abuses against their own citizens but also against citizens of other countries. 

Instead of sheepishly accepting Iran's aggressive and law-breaking actions, the West needs to act immediately and speak forcefully. Otherwise, Tehran will continue to detain foreigners and may even go so far as to abduct them to win favours in negotiations.

It’s time to get the hikers home.

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Iran Snap Analysis: Wikileaks (and the New York Times) v. the Supreme Leader

No question about the big development in Iran yesterday. The Supreme Leader, after four days of effort, finally got a significant political and religious triumph --- as opposed to his PR victory on Tuesday with his reception by Qom's crowds --- when Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani agreed to meet him. Ayatollah Khamenei's website put out a spread of photographs of the encounter, and state media --- even Press TV, which had been silent on the Supreme Leader's meetings with clerics --- posted short reports of the meeting, which also included Ayatollahs Hossein Nouri Hamedani, Naser Makarem Shirazi, Mousa Shobeiri Zanjani, Jafar Sobhani, and Abdollah Javadi Amoli. 

Still, the press coverage has been fairly muted, and the Supreme Leader faces a list of clerics who are holding out against public photographs and private talks: maraje such as Ayatollahs Mousavi Ardebili, Vahid Khorasani, Bayat Zanjani (who raised a smile with his excuse that he was attending his niece's wedding and visiting his mom in Zanjan), and Sane'i are still refusing to show allegiance.

Meanwhile, the non-Iranian press is likely to pay little or no attention today. That is because Tehran has been swept up in the high-profile release by Wikileaks on documents on the US war in Iraq since 2003.

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The Latest from Iran (20 October): Meanwhile, The Economy....

2010 GMT: The Khamenei Road Trip. The Supreme Leader's office has now released photographs of Ayatollah Khamenei's meeting today with several clerics, including Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi (left in the photo below):

1735 GMT: The Supreme Leader and the Clerics (Round 2). A bit more of a substantial success for Ayatollah Khamenei this afternoon, at least according to Fars. He met more clerics, notably Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi. Other Ayatollahs who were present included Sobhani, Sadegh Larijani, Ahmad Khatami, Ebrahim Amini, and Ka'bi.

A bit of confusion, however, as Fars illustrates the encounter with a photograph from Tuesday's reception for the Supreme Leader. Neither IRNA nor Press TV carries a report on today's meeting. Nor, as far as I can tell, does Khamenei's official website.

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The Latest from Iran (15 October): Back to Tehran, Back to Reality

1715 GMT: Music and Politics. An EA reader tips us off to this nugget from a documentary on the musical legend Mohammad Reza Shajarian.

Asked why he became more vocal in his protests after the 2009 election, Shajarian says, "Some guy [Ahmadinejad] described the people as dirt and dust. In a typhoon, dust can blind you. I want to speak for that dust."

Then this. Q: "Are you not afraid?" Sharjarian: "What can they do to me?" Q: "They can arrest you" Shajarian: "I have no fear."

The exchange is in the last quarter of the documentary.

1700 GMT: Khatami's Appeal to Hezbollah. It has emerged that former President Mohammad Khatami wrote to Sayyid Hassan Nasrullah, the head of Hezbollah, about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's trip to Lebanon:

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The Latest from Iran (1 October): Challenging the Supreme Leader, Trying the Hikers

1945 GMT: Breaking the Reformists (cont.). Press TV gives the regime line on the arrest of Freedom Movement of Iran leaders Ebrahim Yazdi and Hashem Sabbaghian (see 1710 GMT).

Yazdi and Sabbaghian were arrested after they appeared in a Friday Prayers mass "led by a well-known Wahhabi element" in Isfahan. Iranian authorities had ordered the cancellation of prayers by the "extremist elements" but Yazdi and Sabbaghian had encouraged the Wahhabi figures to persist. Despite a pledge to give up his illegal behaviour, Yazdi has" reportedly expanded the scope of his group's activities". 

1830 GMT: The Powers of the Guards Expand. Peyke Iran reports what we have just learned from sources: the internal security duties of the Ministry of Intelligence have been handed to the Revolutionary Guard.

1825 GMT: Economy Watch. Kalemeh reports that the implementation of the Government's subsidy cuts plan has been delayed from October to November.

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Iran Video & Transcript: Ahmadinejad on ABC News "US Hikers, Sanctions, & Human Rights" (19 September)

And so Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's US media tour begins, only hours after he arrived in New York. The first interview was with Christiane Amanpour of ABC News's This Week:

Watch the video....

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Iran Video: Ahmadinejad with NBC News on "Muslims", "Zionists", & Obama (15 September)

President Ahmadinejad is off to the United Nations for his annual presentation to the General Assembly, so that means another round of interviews with US television networks.

It's a low-risk strategy for Ahmadinejad, as the American interviewers do not usually bring more than two-dimensional questions, and this encounter with NBC News' Andrea Mitchell was no different. Rather than pushing the President on Iran's internal matters, Mitchell settled for a snapshot of the case of the three US hikers --- Ahmadinejad had released Sarah Shourd on "compassionate grounds" but was defiant over the continued imprisonment of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal --- and got into a tangential discussion on the proposed Islamic cultural centre in New York and a general overview of President Obama and US politics. Ahmadinejad countered with assertions of Muslim goodwill (and thus his own) --- "Muslims do not hate Americans" --- while saying that a "Zionist minority" was limiting the President's options on US-Iranian relations.

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Iran Urgent: US Hiker Sarah Shourd Released ---- Her Statement

UPDATE 1930 GMT: A CNN journalist claims, "Senior US source says Oman paid Iran bail for US hiker Sarah Shourd. Shourd flew from Iran to Oman, who has been working issue for some time."

UPDATE 1800 GMT: Before she flew out of Tehran's Mehrabad Airport, Sarah Shourd told Press TV"I want to really offer my thanks to everyone in the world, all of the governments, all of the people, that have been involved, and especially, particularly want to address President Ahmadinejad and all of the Iranian officials, the religious leaders, and thank them for this humanitarian gesture. I'm grateful and I'm very humbled by this moment."

UPDATE 1630 GMT: The families of the three US hikers who were detained in July 2009 --- Sarah Shourd, Shane Fattal, and Josh Bauer --- have issued a statement:

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