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Who accidentally hikes into Iran?

Gone are the days when one can take something at face value. If it looks too simple and innocent, it inevitably proves the exact opposite. Take the case of the Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal, the three American “hikers” who face espionage charges in Iran after recklessly entering the country in the summer of 2009. Shourd was eventually released on September 14, 2010, on humanitarian grounds but on August 20, 2011 both Bauer and Fattal were found guilty of illegal entry and espionage and sentenced to eight years in Iranian prison. Just last week, an Iranian court had set a bail for $500,000 each for Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer as was reported by the Associated Press. Iran's powerful judiciary clouded the case later the same week by saying it was still reviewing the bail provisions, so who really knows what will become of the touchy situation?
Without delving into the backgrounds of the offenders or carefully weighing the facts of the situation, one might assume these individuals were enjoying a beautiful mountainous hike in an area, which lacked a well-defined border, and were snatched by the Iranian authorities the minute they set foot across the country’s border. If that were the case, they should certainly be released immediately, but the entire episode begs a closer examination to make a decision regarding the situation.
First, it is important to determine who these individuals are. According to Wikipedia, the three are “anti-war, social justice and Palestine Solidarity Movement activists,” and they had been living and active in the Middle East before taking the infamous hike. It goes on to report Shane Bauer’s fluency in speaking Arabic, Sarah Shourd’s work history in Damascus, Syria and Josh Fattal’s educational background as an environmentalist and educator studying abroad.
This situation seems to have caused a rift between those who feel the hikers – fellow American citizens – no less, have done nothing wrong except accidently hike over into Iran. They were detained and convicted illegally. This train of thought gives no weight to their political affiliation, humanitarian causes or where they educated themselves.
The counterargument revolves heavily around their professional, education and political backgrounds, which makes them ideal candidates for possible covert espionage operations. Some news outlets paint them as pro-Syrian, far left, anti-American and anti-Israeli activists, who have actively supported and written in favor of attacks on Israel. It is important to realize they had CHOSEN to live in Syria.
As always, there is still another camp claiming a conspiracy theory claiming although the individuals were, in fact, operatives were sent to be captured in an effort to drum up anti-Iran sentiment in the U.S. press.
There are certainly pros and cons to each angle, and we may never actually learn the truth about this intense incident. The lesson that should be obvious is if one is going to be hiking near the Iranian border, it would perhaps be a nice idea to alert the Iranian authoritie¬s in advance, to make sure the proper paperwork is completed and the rules strickly followed. How would we feel about three Iranian “tourists” wandering into the U.S. along the Mexican or Canadian border? They might consider themselves lucky the border guards did not ship them straight to Gitmo or perhaps even go ‘John Wayne’ on them shoot first, and ask questions later.

Note: This editorial contains information from other clearly stated media sources for the purpose of discussion stimulation and content enrichment.