November 01, 2011

Formerly imprisoned U.S. hikers to speak at UAB

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fattalThree American hikers captured international headlines when they were detained July 31, 2009, for alleged espionage in Iranian territory. Now free after two years of public outcries, international campaigns and negotiations, the friends will give their first talk on an American college campus at the University of Alabama at Birmingham at 7 p.m. Nov. 30, 2011, in Bartow Arena, 617 13th Street South.

bauerShane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal were hiking in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan near the Ahmed Awa waterfall when they were detained by Iranian border guards. They had visas from Turkey and planned to spend five days visiting the area. None of them spoke Persian and had no plans of going into Iran. News reports differ as to whether Iranian forces entered Iraq to arrest the friends or if they mistakenly strayed across the poorly marked border.

shourdShourd was released 14 months later on humanitarian grounds. But, two years after their arrest, Bauer and Fattal were convicted of illegal entry and espionage and each sentenced to eight years in prison. The men were released on Sept. 21, 2011, after paying bail of 5 billion rials, or about $465,000 U.S.

The three friends are all UC-Berkeley graduates. Bauer, a California native, is an award-winning freelance journalist who has worked for Pacifica News Service, Mother Jones and The Nation. Shourd, who grew up in Los Angeles, worked in education and social justice in Damascus, Syria. She became engaged to Bauer while imprisoned. Joshua “Josh” Fattal, a Pennsylvania native, is an environmentalist and educator who was a teaching fellow with the International Honors Program Health and Community study-abroad program in Switzerland, India, China and South Africa.

The lecture is sponsored by the UAB Lecture Series. For more information, call 205-975-9509.

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