U.S. Renews Demands for Release of Detained Hikers After Two Fall Ill


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White House officials are renewing demands for the release of the three UC Berkeley alumni detained in Iran after Swiss officials reported April 22 that two of the detainees have grown ill.

Since Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal were detained last July while hiking near the Iran-Iraq border, Shourd and Fattal have each developed separate illnesses and all three are discussing a hunger strike to "protest the total lack of movement in their case," according to a statement from the hiker's families.

"We were deeply alarmed to learn from the families today of their physical and emotional state of health," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in a statement. "We strongly believe these urgent developments are additional reasons for the government of Iran to release them immediately."

According to the families' statement and major media outlets, Bauer has a stomach ailment while Shourd is suffering from a serious gynecological condition that requires specialist care, as well as depression.

"We ... fear their well-being will suffer even more unless their case is resolved without delay," the families said in a statement. "We are convinced that if Iran had any evidence against Shane, Sarah and Josh, it would already have tried them in a public court of law and let them answer any allegations. We know that Shane, Sarah and Josh have nothing to hide."

After repeated requests, a Swiss ambassador was allowed to visit the three detainees, according to Philip Crowley, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State.

"These three Americans have been in detention for almost nine months without formal charges or access to legal representation, as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," Crowley said at a press conference Friday. "There is no justification for their ongoing detention, and they should be released without further delay."

Javier Panzar covers higher education. Contact him at [email protected]

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