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November 19th, 2009
10:41 AM ET

Fourth American hiker: 'No warning signs'

It's been three months since three Americans – Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal – were arrested in Iran. They reportedly crossed an unmarked border while hiking in Northern Iraq and are being held in Tehran where government officials say they now face espionage charges.

The families say it was an innocent mistake and in his first television interview, Shon Meckfessel – the "fourth" hiker, who was not arrested – told CNN's Kiran Chetry what they were all doing there in the first place.

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

Filed under: Exclusive • Iran
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Chad

    Seems like a normal thing to do for a holiday or a visit, especially when there may be few options for local entertainment and they are likely on a limited budget. It is easy to think that you can get around in a foreign country once you learn to read the road signs. Hindsight is 20/20, of course.

    November 25, 2009 at 10:53 pm |
  2. marly

    The nasty, judgmental comments are amazing.

    When I was young and foolish (age 45) we took a hike in the mountains and the forest service told us that there would be 1/2 inch of snow over a 3-day week-end. We came prepared. Three days later, we dug out of 6+ feet.

    They were on a hiking trail in a tourist area. Why is everyone so mean? Read the facts.

    Also, for the person who said "stan" was a bad word and "stan's" are not to be visited, are we that isolationist? The Internet confirms that Iraqi Kurdistan is a tourist area.

    November 21, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  3. Rob

    Send George Bush, as a "special" envoy, to negotiate their release.
    If Dubya's too busy, send Rummy, or Dick!

    November 20, 2009 at 8:11 pm |
  4. Dan R

    Oh, and one other thing. They have become bargaining chips and this country (if not the world) will pay a very, very high price for their frolic.

    November 20, 2009 at 7:45 pm |
  5. Dan R

    These were Berkeley grads - across the Bay from where I live. For several generations, Berkeley students have opposed authority, the establishment and any thing else that comes along. They raised hell to the limits (and often beyond). Now they know they can do that only in the US.

    November 20, 2009 at 7:42 pm |
  6. jh

    There are a lot of borders in the world where "markers" mean a lot less than the line-of-sight of rifles on the scene. Maybe this group's next trip, assuming they ever get the opportunity, can be on the border of North and South Korea, or India/Pakistan, etc.

    November 20, 2009 at 7:06 pm |
  7. David

    If these were four military age Iranian hikers, complete with digital cameras, video cameras, laptops crossing int the US via Canada into Washington state via the forests they would be in Guantanamo.

    By the way it is funny this is a right wing cause celebre! Note to "birthers": these hkers are ISRAELI not American by your definition of someone eligible for foreign citizenship not being Americans since they are eligible to be Israeli as all Jews are!

    The Iranians simply have the same attitude as the American Right wing!

    November 20, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  8. John Merritt

    I can't believe that the tour they were with, the hotel they stayed at, no one they traveled with did not state "Not safe to walk over thereeeeee..."pointing in the direction of a known country unfriendly to Americans and the U.S. These kids knew they were going to be hiking in the direction of Iran, they knew they were taking risks, yet they continued on and did not retreat when the guards were approaching in the distance. This whole affair stinks and now would be a good time to start negotiations. Maybe they can team up with GB to retrieve the couple that was snagged by the pirates a month or so ago.

    November 20, 2009 at 6:06 pm |
  9. mike

    There is a much easer way to go see Iraq, and the Government will pay for it! These self indulgent idiots deserve to rot over there if for nothing else than their sheer stupidity. Iran can keep them for all I care.

    November 20, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  10. Steve Boojuu

    They broke the law and they must pay. Americans shouldn't be treated differently than any other foreigner. Let them rot in prison.

    November 20, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  11. Ed

    What kind of idiots (marines and army excluded) go hiking in Iraq and Iran? I don't wish these kids ill but maybe if they sit in some Iranian prison for a while some common sense will germinate.

    November 20, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  12. turtle

    I completely understand the desire to go hiking in those places. I wish I could do more of it, but you can't leave your prudence in the tent.

    Think about the Luisitania, those people made a decision to go on a cruise right in the middle of a war zone, and they paid the price. They didn't deserve what they got either, but common sense is invaluable.

    My grandma used to say, "well God takes care of fools." Admittedly I have done more than a few things in my life that required me to call upon that statement. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

    November 20, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  13. dave

    Just think of , these people are a product of the great liberal think tank in California, UC Berkley, and probably thought their enlightened view of the world "save themselves" from a despotic government. It's
    no doubt Bush's fault. Another example of the death of personal responsibility.

    November 20, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  14. CJ

    What ever happed to being responsible for your own actions? Give me one good reason as to why I should feel sorry for them. I can't think of any.

    November 20, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  15. Rick from NH

    Stupid is is as stupid does! But aside from this groups lack of clear thinking. I say lets bomb the hell out of IRAN once and for all anyway, and claim the bomb wondered over there by accident. Boy would that be a neat News Story.

    November 20, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  16. Dave

    No Al, when someone is caught illiegally crossing the border into the US, they are generally held then deported unless they're wanted for something else. Iran has charged them with espionage, something they could be executed for.

    There's a world of difference there.

    November 20, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  17. OCCent

    Warning signs. Seriously? Have we become so insulated that we thing the world is made out of bubble wrap? I got a warning sign for you, how about you being near the border of Iran!

    November 20, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  18. Keith

    Not to sound ignorant, but most places that end in "stan" are not a great place to go on vacation unless it's a really well-known tourist destination.

    November 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
  19. Barbara Reitz

    If the border is so poorly marked, how do we even know that they indeed crossed it? This could just be a ploy on the part of Iran as a bargaining chip for something else. These people are animals.

    November 20, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  20. chacho

    maybe they were looking for the tower of babel

    November 20, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  21. Jo

    I think they want to be able to write a "book" about thier adventures, after we send someone to save thier sorry asses. OK, but we will charge you for the cost of the "rescue" up front.

    November 20, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  22. Heinz

    This whole thing smells bad. In view of our 'brilliant' secretary of state making the stupid statement 'I believe strongly there is no evidence' that these students were there for nefarious reasons, to me sounds like an admission.
    Why not simply say they are NOT spies (unless there was reason to think that someone might come up with facts that contradict that).
    She would have been better off keeping her mouth shut. Too tough I guess.
    Well, I guess we at least dodged a bullet when she did NOT become President...

    November 20, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  23. J. Hart

    Just some more thrill seekers, "Yeah we hiked right up to the border with Iran, COOL" who got burned by their dangerous behavior, like WSB in Bethesda, I am tired of this story; the more noise is made over it the longer the Iranians will hold them.

    November 20, 2009 at 11:10 am |
  24. mms55

    i think people who put themselve's in these situation deserve what they get .i'am tired of them putting the usa in these position's.there is a war going on and their lack of common sense is beyon stupid.stay out of harm's way you idiot's!

    November 20, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  25. kg

    Is there an app for that?

    November 20, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  26. daniel

    nancy, i think we should send you and sarah palin. maybe you could invite "w" also.

    November 20, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  27. wsb-bethesda, MD

    Um, is this guys explanation supposed to add some common sense to this stupid story? A "friend" told these people that Kurdistan is the most beautiful place in the world so they feel they have an uncompromised right to go "hiking" in a war zone??? This is just nonesense. These people need to start showing some humility and admit how inappropriate and irresponsible their actions were. They have put international relations between a number of countries at risk by their selfish behavior. I am tired of this story.

    November 20, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  28. Joe Davenport

    Reference Sarah Palin's book. I'm confused. I thought a wine list would be found in a restaurant. Oh! I get it, her book is a "whine list".

    November 20, 2009 at 8:06 am |
  29. Joe

    Israeli spies I'd say, seems pretty obvious. Check their names! Trying to stir up more protests in Iran no doubt. Shows how gullible the powers that be think the average American is if they think most people would believe these people were "hikers".

    November 20, 2009 at 6:47 am |
  30. Al

    What do we think the U.S. Border patrol does if they come across some poor mexican students out hiking who accidently cross the border?

    Our immigration system is just as vicious against those who inadvertently break the law as it is against those who willingly defy it. Why would we expect anything less from Iran?

    November 20, 2009 at 3:04 am |
  31. tartofdarkness

    You know why they expect warning signs? Because in the U.S. there are warning signs for EVERYTHING. And every where something bad happens in the wilderness and there are no warning signs, the government (meaning us) gets sued. People go to the Grand Canyon and have to be warned to not climb over the protective railings in the the sheer 3,000 plus foot drop that they can see with their own eyes.

    These are typical Americans believing that the entire world, literally the entire world, owes them a soft cushy place to land no matter what stupid thing they do.

    I hope the three hikers that are being held make it home safely and I hope they all have learned that there is not here. I also hope that their selfishness and idiocy doesn't result in the deaths of American troops or innocent Iranians because they chose to walk into a diplomatic nightmare.

    November 19, 2009 at 9:23 pm |
  32. JC

    I'm with you, Tony, these people made a really boneheaded choice and are getting the consequences. In no way should the US allow them to be used as bargaining chips in any diplomacy that's going on. And no warning signs?? What an idiot! Some people just shouldn't be allowed out into the real world without a chaperone....

    November 19, 2009 at 8:43 pm |
  33. Kate

    I totally agree with Tony. No one in their right mind goes for a relaxing hiking trip to Iraq. They were there for reasons that no one is saying and it wasn't to go hiking.

    November 19, 2009 at 8:18 pm |
  34. Orion

    I agree these people should have known better then go hiking in the middle of a hostile zone like Iran. Iran doesn't like's well known.

    I do agree that Clinton should go get them. Either that or bomb the hell out of Iran.

    November 19, 2009 at 7:31 pm |
  35. joeblow

    I have no sympathy for people who jump into boiling water and then are indignant and shocked when they get burned.
    They chose to straddle one of the most hostile lines on this planet for fun and leisure, they can deal with the consequences on their own.

    Maybe next time they'll choose to holiday in a sensible location and fashion.

    November 19, 2009 at 7:30 pm |
  36. Joe Masada

    Tony is absolutely correct. Considering the abundance of beautiful, challenging, and safe places to hike in this world, this hike was ill chosen and incredibly irresponsible. Sure, the Iranians are being jerks about the whole ordeal. But these hikers recklessly tempted fate, and lost.

    November 19, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  37. Rick

    Whether or not there were warning signs is not even remotely the issue....Anyone and everyone knows that both Iraq and Iran are definitely hot spots to say the least....I don't care how beautiful the country may be there is absolutely no way on God's green earth I would even consider hiking there....anyone with any common sense whatsoever would not do so...I am not by any means saying they deserve to be detained....but for crying out loud DO NOT PARTAKE IN RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES IN A WAR ZONE!!!!!

    November 19, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  38. timmer

    Was the Appalachian Trail closed that day? If you stick your hand near the fire you are likely to get burnedt.
    Now a crazy country like Iran gets to use you as pawns–nice work kids. Good luck getting out, maybe I will read about it and maybe I won't care because you were dumb enough to put yourself anywhere near there.....

    November 19, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  39. Bill

    I have to agree with Tony. These people were stupid. We have to stop making excuses and accommodations for stupid people.

    November 19, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  40. Mike

    I agree people need to use common sense. What are they even doing in Nothern Iraq? Who goes hiking in places like that?
    Not that I think they deserve what they will get but come one people! don't go hiking in those places!!!

    November 19, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  41. Personal Responsibility

    What a lack of personal responsibility. It is alway someone elses fault. No warning signs you are entering Iram. What were they expecting flowers and passport stamp?

    November 19, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  42. Sherry

    They should have had GPS that would have warned them they had entered hostile territory like the beacons in Star Trek that warned about the Neutral Zone.

    November 19, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  43. Rod in Texas

    If you mess with the bull, you're going to get the horn. These hikers obviously are lacking grey matter. If I was so ignorant as to do something as such, I certainly would not expect the state dept. to come bail me out.

    November 19, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  44. tony

    Why on earth would any go hiking along the border of a known hostile country like Iran or North Korea? Why would you expect these kinds of countries to have "warning signs"? What these people did was really stupid. Lets have some common sense.

    November 19, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  45. nancy

    Well, send Former President Clinton to get them.

    November 19, 2009 at 11:48 am |