After two years of detention in Iranian prison, UC Berkeley alumni Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal spoke Sunday for the first time since landing on American soil.
Bauer and Fattal, who were released Wednesday on a $1 million bail after two years of imprisonment for allegedly crossing the Iran-Iraq border while hiking, criticized American foreign policy and described their experiences in Iran at a press conference Sunday in New York.
“This was never about crossing the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq,” Bauer said. “We were held because of our nationality.”
Bauer blamed “32 years of mutual hostility” between the United States and Iran for the way they were treated.
Last month, Bauer and Fattal were convicted of espionage and sentenced to eight years in prison. The two men each received five years imprisonment for espionage and three additional years for allegedly entering the country illegally. The conviction was widely condemned by world leaders as unnecessarily harsh.
“We were convicted of espionage because we were American,” Bauer said.
Bauer and Fattal were captured along with UC Berkeley alumna and Bauer’s fiancee Sarah Shourd, who, after being imprisoned with them, was released last September on $500,000 bail.
“We vowed to each other that none of us would be free entirely till all of us were free,” Bauer said. “That moment has now thankfully come.”
Bauer said the three of them are now ready to begin their lives and leave prison behind them, “with a new appreciation for the sweet taste of freedom.”