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November 10th, 2009
11:38 AM ET

Hiker's brother reacts to spying charges

Iran is charging three American hikers with espionage, a Tehran prosecutor said Monday.

The three Americans have been detained since July 31 on charges of illegally crossing the border from Iraqi Kurdistan into Iran. Their family and friends say it was an innocent mistake.

The announcement of the charges comes only days after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met privately with the families of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal, who were detained along the Iran-Iraq border at the end of July.

Alex Fattal, the brother of hiker Josh Fattal, spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN's American Morning Tuesday.

Read more: Iran to charge 3 American hikers with espionage, says prosecutor

Filed under: Iran
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Matt

    "The hikers were working and living in the region. Iraqi Kurdistan has been a safe area to travel to for some time. They were not "putting themselves in the line of fire" they were not stupid or careless. "

    In the region? Syria is not Iraq, which is not Iran. To call Kurdistan "safe" is an absurdity. What's more, they weren't in Iraq. They were in Iran which is the whole problem here. And yes, I'm afraid it is both stupid and careless to cross the border into Iran. How you can you argue otherwise? It's this kind of nonsense thinking that lands you in Iranian jails Charles.

    "They went for a recreational hike based on input from others in the RESORT area they were in about beautiful places to hike."

    A resort area for Arabs. How ignorant to assume any place in the Middle East with clean towels and running water must be for American tourists. There are beautiful places to hike in every single country on earth. Believe it or not, you are not welcome in many parts of the world. There are people in Oakland that would kill you for $20. Not every scenario is sorted out with hugs and good intentions Laura.

    "WOW. Some people have no compassion. Ok, so they may of made a mistake... but don't we all?"

    When most people make a mistake they have to wipe up spilled milk or somebodys email gets deleted. When I make a mistake people die. There are different kinds of mistakes. These hikers foolishly went where they are not welcome, and caused an international incident with one of our most bitter enemies. They made themselves a bargaining chip against their own country at a time when we are locked in hostile negotiations to prevent a terrorist state in open war against us, killing our soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere, from obtaining nuclear weapons. That's a pretty big fu$$ing mistake. Wake up Dee.

    "They are concerned citizens trying to do some good in the world. Read their backgrounds, research the location they were visiting and then ask yourself: "What have I done to make the world a better place?""

    I don't know what your MOS was Micha but as a former "service member' you should know that civilian vacationers have no place whatsoever in a war zone, even ones with pretty waterfalls. I'm not sure how they are making the world a better place traipsing around Iran but granted they are doing a little more service for the world than the typical American in their day to day. However, they have made the world substantially worse by raising the stakes in a game that could end up blowing up in our face litterally. Holding American tourists as spies is Iran's wet dream right now and if you don't see that, you aren't a "thinking voter". In fact you are the ignorant one and frankly you've embarrassed yourself by coming here and attacking others for doing exactly what you do.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  2. Matthew

    Why in the media do they keep referring to these three as ‘Children’ or ‘Kids’.....These three were ADULTS. Two of them are 27 and one of them is 31. They are more then old enough to know better then to wander around in that part of the world.

    Wandering over any border in the world is illegal and wandering into Iran is about the worse possible thing anyone could ever do. Rule of thumb...Stay out of that part of the world all together unless you are there in active duty in the military and under orders to be there.

    Charles....Sorry but if I was living in that part of the world for work or otherwise. I would never go within 50 miles of the Iranian border, just to be sure. That is called piece of mind.

    November 16, 2009 at 3:39 am |
  3. Micha Sanders

    If you haven't researched this story and the stories of the three involved, don't post ignorant comments. They are are not thrill seekers, fruitcakes or the like. They are concerned citizens trying to do some good in the world. Read their backgrounds, research the location they were visiting and then ask yourself: "What have I done to make the world a better place?"

    By the way, I'm a prior service member and a thinking voter. I don't form opinions until I've done the research. Get out of the mindless herd and start thinking for once. It's uninformed, "We the sheeple" types like those with the ignorant comments that make me embarrassed to be a US citizen sometimes...

    November 16, 2009 at 2:54 am |
  4. Dee

    WOW. Some people have no compassion. Ok, so they may of made a mistake... but don't we all?

    I agree with what Charles said, "the hikers were working and living in the region. Iraqi Kurdistan has been a safe area to travel to for some time. They were not "putting themselves in the line of fire" they were not stupid or careless."

    Its not right for Iran to take their lives away, when they have done nothing to deserve such harsh treatment.

    I can not believe people would say "just leave them there". With that kind of attitude, don't be surprised if you get no help when you are in a dire situation.

    November 16, 2009 at 1:05 am |
  5. Hugo Kijne

    @Charles and Jennifer: the proof is in the pudding. If they were so well informed and the area is as safe as you suggest, they wouldn't be in the predicament they are in now. After all, there is no indication whatsoever that the Iranian revolutionary guard crossed the border to capture them. Of course the Iranian regime is despicable, and the US has to do what it can to bring them home unharmed, but I hope they get billed for all the expenses incurred in those efforts on the taxpayers' dime and have to work part of their life to pay them back.

    November 13, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  6. Jennifer

    Thanks Charles, Barb and Sam-your comments are a breath of fresh air for these families compared to the countless comments by ill-informed individuals. Charles, you are right on the money; your comment is the truthful account of what happened. Thank You.

    November 12, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  7. Barb Kandel

    Three lives are at stake here. Let's be human now. They may have made a mistake, but they didn't hurt anybody. Let's just hope for their safe return home.

    November 11, 2009 at 7:49 pm |
  8. Mitchell

    Just think of all of our taxpayer money that is being spent on these three because of the really smart thing that they did.

    November 11, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  9. sam

    my thoughts and prayers are going out to josh, sarah and shane and their friends and family. bring them home soon!

    November 11, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  10. Laura

    These are three young people vacationing in this area. They were not students nearby, did not intimately know the area. They went for a hike in a tourist area, a Kurdish area that has seen know harm to any Americans in 17 years.... They went for a recreational hike based on input from others in the RESORT area they were in about beautiful places to hike.

    November 11, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  11. T Smith

    What a bunch of idiots, Now they want our help to get them home, sorry Charlie. I say leave them there.

    November 11, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  12. Charles

    The preceding comments are ill-informed and reactionary. The hikers were working and living in the region. Iraqi Kurdistan has been a safe area to travel to for some time. They were not "putting themselves in the line of fire" they were not stupid or careless.

    The three hikers are people who took a wrong turn and are caught up in a pre-existing hostile situation that they did nothing to create. All anyone can do is hope for their safe return.

    The problem with these quasi anonymous comment sections is that people can say things without any accountability to the facts or the people involved.

    November 11, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  13. mtnviewvj

    The old response about why mountain climbers take the risk of personal injury (maybe death) to climb a difficult mountain, is "because it is there". I would say the same about hikers. My son is both. He and his girlfriend recently climbed Mt Whitney by the hard route, where they put stakes and climbed using ropes. He has had several injuries, his left hand has metal rod inside (he's left handed). These guys are incurable, so the world just has to put up with them.

    November 11, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  14. mtnviewvj

    Iran's Ahmadinejad is a crazy monster. He likes to torture any foreigners. Under him, Iran has become a chamber of horrors. Hikers are attracted to unusual phenomena which they can photograph and talk about in their meetings at home. Iranian beasts love to get their hands on any "foreigners", even though America and allies have done a great favor to Iran to get rid of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Iraq is now ruled by a Shia majority and likewise, Iran is a Shia majority country. Torture, torture, torture – say Ahmadinejad and his govt of religious extremists.

    November 11, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  15. Duvallone

    God bless this country, but more importantly, God help this country wise up to reality and natural consequences of idiot behaviour. I wonder if kids these days aren't raised with "consequences". Maybe they have always been excused or bailed out. It has to stop somewhere.

    November 11, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  16. Bruce from Cypress Texas

    Note to john flaherty: Thank You very much for your statement concerning Veterans...I am a USMC Vietnam era vet and appreciate the thought. I always say "If you like your freedom, thank a Vet"

    Its clear that these hikers used poor judgement in their decision to hike near the Iranian border. I feel what they need now is our support, not condemnation, as most of the people have posted. Put yourself in their place...would you want people back home, condemning you, as you sit in a Iranian jail, not knowing what will happen to you??? Or would you want Americans to give you their support and understanding and pull together to do everything they could to obtain the release of these people. The Iranian leaders have shown how immature they are and I feel insecure as well...The world knows these hikers are not spys. Iran will only make things worse for themselves in the long run. I for one will pray for their safe return, and when they come home, they can tell their story.

    November 11, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  17. Joel

    Hi! I'm a 20-something free-lance journalist from the San Francisco area who loves hiking. I've heard the Cuidad Juarez area of Mexico, the Korean DMZ, the Georgian-Russian border, the Line of Control in Kashmir, and Darfur are some great areas to hike. Does anyone out there have a recommendation? Thanks!

    November 11, 2009 at 9:44 am |
  18. ronvan

    Have to agree with the majority of these comments. This was just plain stupidity and unless we make the decision to just leave them there and suffer their "self induced" fate, it will cost this country something!

    November 11, 2009 at 9:25 am |
  19. wsb-bethesda, MD

    What were these people doing over there? Don't these people know anyone smart enough to spot a bad idea when they hear one?

    Any idea that starts with the premise "First, we travel to a war zone" is just a bad idea. Enough of these globe trekking idiots. Let the Iranians have them, these people are a bigger danger to us when they are free then when they are locked up in Iran.

    November 11, 2009 at 8:12 am |
  20. john flaherty

    on veterans day you should be talking about nothing but veterans. There is enough to go around with the vets that have great stories. But you bring up all theses stories that could be here everyday. respect and appreciate them because they give you the chance to laugh and joke about what you do right now on your talk show.
    this is from a non-vet god bless this country and the veterans

    November 11, 2009 at 7:01 am |
  21. jim vicalvi

    I don't feel sorry at all for these 3 dummies. Anyone who is even NEAR these areas is totally ignorant. The same with those 2 idiots captured by N. Korea. They were all asking for what they got. They have also embaassed the American govt. They got where they are at so let them get themselves out. No more taxpayer money. We pay enough for stupidity in congress and don't need any more expense.

    November 11, 2009 at 4:35 am |
  22. tony

    I feel for tthese families. However, I have to ask: Why on earth anyone would go hiking along the border of a hostile country like Iran? Especially since a few months earlier we had a similiar situation in North Korea. What these people did was really stupid.

    November 10, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  23. Wilbur

    I pray for them to grow a brain while they are incarcerated overthere.....

    November 10, 2009 at 5:56 pm |
  24. glenn

    One would have to be the closest thing to an idiot to venture anywhere near that country!! Innocent mistake or not, now this country must squander much needed political points/favor in negotiating the release of some "innocent" morons. Hikers should be required to take a competency exam coupled with world geography and a working compass!! Grow a brain!!!

    November 10, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  25. Angelo

    As a retired veteran, I can tell you that I am tired of all the people that put themselves in the line of fire and then expects us to come over and rescue their sorry souls.
    First of all; Iraq is NOT a place for any tourist. Just by then being there they already were placing themselves in a bad spot but then, THEN, they go out to the border with Iran?! What the hell?!

    As far as I am concerned; if you take extraordinary steps to get yourself into trouble, then you are on your own! The USA or any country should never be in the "Fools Rescue" Business.

    They did a very stupid thing, so tough up and face the consequences!

    November 10, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  26. Suparag

    Apart from the crazy Iranians who would do anything to piss of US, why are these idiots hiking in these mountains much less go to these god awful places. One side of me thinks that these idiots deserved to be in the Iranian prison.

    November 10, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  27. PSC330

    I enjoy a nice walk in the great outdoors as much as the next guy but why in the he** would you want to go trekking around in such a dangerous part of the world as northern Iraq / Iran? To see some local waterfall? Was it too crowded in the Himalayas?

    Now you're in the hands of a hostile gov't who wants to parade you on the world stage as "spies" and make diplomacy even more difficult for the US gov't. Leave 'em there.

    November 10, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  28. Duvallone

    Well, I am sorry for the relatives of these idiots, but what the heck were they doing over there anyway? They must already be brain dead. Now they are going to cost more taxpayer money to bail their sorry butts out of the spot they have put themselves into. I think we should let idiots like this just go. Just let them go. They are too dumb to live.

    November 10, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  29. Hugo Kijne

    Another uncritical interview. Maybe they were not spying but clearly they were not thinking. I guess we'll have to wait until these fruitcakes come home before we can ask any critical questions.

    November 10, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  30. rich

    Why in the world would you be hiking on Irans border. Just one more group of thrill seekers who do something stupid then expect the government to bail them out. How much is thier little hike costing us. Too much if you ask me.

    November 10, 2009 at 1:28 pm |

    I am constantly amazed at the poor judgement of our youth. Why would they ever be there in the first place. If they are going to school nearby, why would they in their right mind hike near the iranian border? A court stopped the young girl from trying to sail around the world but courts cannot interfere in every bad/stupid choice young or old people make.The problem then becomes the American taxpayer paying the cost of search/rescue or worse yet, recovery.
    Please people–use good common sense that does not appear to be so common!!!

    November 10, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  32. hongli

    Fire and Danger should be left alone and everyone with common sense should "KEEP AWAY" Enough said. If you go to crab-dance then prepare to get mud .

    November 10, 2009 at 12:23 pm |