Iran Turns American Hikers into Hostages

American hikers Shane Bauer (L) and Josh Fattal (C) and their translator attend the first session of their trial at the revolutionary court in Tehran, in this February 6, 2011 file picture. Bauer and Fattal, detained in Iran for more than two years, have been found guilty of spying and given sentences of eight years each, Iranian state TV reported on August 20, 2011.

On Saturday, an Iranian court sentenced two innocent American hikers to eight years in jail for allegedly straying across the Iran–Iraq border two years ago.

The politicized verdict once again underscores the Islamist regime’s twisted sense of “justice,” which is meted out against Iranians as well as foreigners to advance the interests of a ruthlessly brutal regime. The show trial of the hiker/hostages is one more slap in the face of the Obama Administration, whose eager rush to engage Tehran has produced no tangible results.

The two American hikers, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, detained in Iran for more than two years, had a court hearing on July 31, the second anniversary of their arrests on charges of illegally entering Iran and spying. They continue to maintain their innocence. The two had been hiking inside Iraq, along with another American, Sarah Shourd, but were reportedly lured over the poorly marked border by Iranian border guards. Shourd was freed on $500,000 bail in November 2010 on humanitarian grounds due to her declining health.

In addition to its persecution of the American hiker hostages, Tehran has been far from forthcoming about the disappearance of Robert Levinson, a retired FBI investigator who disappeared in Iran in 2007 after meeting with David Belfield, an American convert to Islam who fled to Iran after he assassinated an exiled Iranian opposition leader, Ali Akbar Tabatabai, in 1980 in Bethesda, Maryland.

The verdict on the American hikers comes on the heels of a series of ominous news about Iran’s accelerating uranium enrichment efforts and robust ballistic missile buildup.

Iran also remains the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, continues to support militant groups targeting American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and retains opportunistic tactical ties to al-Qaeda.

Tehran is now hinting that it wants to kick-start the failed nuclear negotiations, this time on the basis of a Russian initiative that would reduce international sanctions and allow Tehran to engage in more rope-a-dope diplomacy to buy time for its nuclear efforts.

One would hope that the Obama Administration would not fall yet again for this dilatory diplomatic ploy, especially with at least two American hostages sitting in Iranian jails.

For more Heritage Foundation publications on Iran, see:

Source material can be found at this site.

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