Let me clear from the outset, as I have in previous posts. This
is not a press freedom issue per se because the hikers—only one of whom is a
journalist—were not on a reporting trip when they apparently strayed across the
Iranian border while hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan (The
Nation reports that they may have been captured in
Yet CPJ has spoken up to affirm Shane Bauer’s journalistic credentials because, regardless of the circumstances, a professional colleague has been unjustly detained. The other two hikers are Sarah Shourd, 31, who taught English and lived with Shane in Damascus who and their friend, Josh Fattal, 28, an environmentalist they knew from college who had joined them for vacation.
Shane was a correspondent for New
America Media (
What this meant was that I was never off duty. I might come across a story while vacationing at the beach, or while hiking up a volcano, or while watching a parade. And I took some chances to see new things and meet people who were not talking to the big-time correspondents. Nothing too terrible happened to me, but it could have.
Shane and his friends decided to take a vacation in Iraqi
Kurdistan, an unconventional destination to some but only a moderately
adventurous undertaking for someone living in
Of course, he’s got a hell of a story now, but he’s also got a major problem communicating with the rest of the world. But the point is this: I understand and identify with the spirit of adventure that led Shane and his friends to take some chances and obviously make some bad decisions. I could certainly envision a scenario where I might find myself in the same situation.
I hope the perception that the hikers made some bad decisions
does not blunt our sympathy and concern for three young people who have now
become pawns of a cynical and corrupt regime. I know the families have
struggled to keep their children’s fate in the public eye. I hope that a year of
cruel injustice will spark additional interest, concern, and increasing