September 18, 2020

Freed US hikers describe harrowing ordeal in Iran

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Josh Fattal, left, and Shane Bauer

NEW YORK (AP) — Two American hikers being held in an Iranian prison got a big surprise one day after their exercise routine: Instead of being blindfolded and led back to their cell, they suddenly heard the words, “Let’s go home.”

That’s what a diplomatic envoy from Oman told them before whisking them away to the Tehran airport — and freedom, the two men said Sunday at a Manhattan news conference.

“After 781 days of prison, Shane and I are now free men,” a jubilant Joshua Fattal announced, hours after he and Shane Bauer landed at Kennedy International Airport.

Safe on U.S. soil, the two spoke for the first time in public about their ordeal of more than two years at the hands of Iranians — accused of spying for their country by illegally walking across the Iran-Iraq border.

They say they simply got lost while hiking with another American, Sarah Shourd, who was released last year.

The three paid a brutal price for their adventure, they said.

“Many times, too many times, we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten and there was nothing we could do to help them,” Fattal said.

Added Bauer: “How can we forgive the Iranian government when it continues to imprison so many other innocent people and prisoners of conscience?”

 

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