Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Of Gratitude, Ingratitude, and Imprisonment in Iran

by Elliott Abrams
September 22, 2011

Shane Bauer (R), one of the U.S. hikers who was held in Iran on charges of espionage, hugs a relative as he smiles at fiancee Sarah Shourd upon his arrival in Muscat after his release from Tehran's Evin prison, September 21, 2011 (Courtersy REUTERS/SANA).

In the last year I have written several blog posts about the American hikers imprisoned in Iran, hoping to help keep attention focused on getting them freed. Like every American I was delighted to see them out, finally, yesterday.

But like many Americans, I was not delighted by the statement made immediately by one of the two, Shane Bauer. After thanking the Sultan of Oman for helping get them out, he said this:

Two years in prison is too long and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran.

Who exactly are the “political prisoners” in America? Can we have some names? Who exactly are the “unjustly imprisoned people” in America, and how precisely does Mr. Bauer know them to be “unjustly imprisoned” rather than convicted according to due process of law?

Given that Mr. Bauer has just suffered two years imprisonment by Iran for the crime of hiking and mistakenly crossing a border, is he entirely comfortable with his comparison of the two countries in the statement just quoted? So it would appear. Thinking of the immense diplomatic activity this country undertook to free him and the enthusiasm with which his liberation was greeted yesterday, that statement of his leaves a very bad taste.

Post a Comment 23 Comments

  • Posted by Matt

    Wow, I guess you aren’t aware of Guantanamo Bay. Clearly you let his comment upset you to the point where you forgot to think.

  • Posted by Philip Barbee

    You ask, “Who exactly are the ‘unjustly imprisoned people’ in America, and how precisely does Mr. Bauer know them to be ‘unjustly imprisoned’ rather than convicted according to due process of law?

    A short list would be:

    Joseph Abbitt
    Habib Wahir Abdal
    Kenneth Adams
    Gilbert Alejandro
    Richard Alexander
    Marvin Anderson
    Herman Atkins
    Steven Avery
    William D. Avery
    James Bain
    Steven Barnes
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    Gene Bibbins
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    Victor Burnette
    A.B. Butler
    Kevin Byrd
    Dean Cage
    Leonard Callace
    Anthony Capozzi
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    Terry Chalmers
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  • Posted by Danny Black

    Reminds of the comment made by the CIA team responsible for releasing the hostages in 80s Lebanon when the first hostage launched into a long, anti-American diatribe – “Can we give him back?”

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    After having heard that appalling statement it seemed that he might actually be getting out too soon .

  • Posted by Eddie Abbott

    Let’s give the guy a break, the statement was not made on American soil, I trust he will have more to say after his stress level has reduced, back on U.S. soil.

  • Posted by Fresh

    You call them hikers unlike Iran that calls them spies, what would you call three Iranians being arrested in Florida waters without any passport or any reason for being there and claiming they were fishing in US waters? wouldn’t you call them spies? You asked who exactly are those detained Iranians? There are some 60 Iranian prisoners in US , 11 of them on political grounds including Dr. Amir Hussein Ardabili , including Shahrzad mir-Qolikhan , including many other IRanians? why do you pretend that there’s no such matter when there is indeed ? why covering truths? why lying? Americans are not tired of lying?

  • Posted by Fresh
  • Posted by badgergirl

    The “Innocence Project” takes cases that may have lack DNA and have other evidentiary doubt. Often evidence has been suppressed due to ill timed Miranda warnings and other legal means. Many of these people may be “unjustly imprisoned” from a legal standpoint, but in reality they are where they belong.

  • Posted by Jon Letman

    Two words Mr. Abrams: Maher Arar (http://maherarar.net/)

  • Posted by Hunter Deely

    Troy Davis.

    Any nation that executes its own citizens is not a civilized nation, whether those citizens are guilty or not. The execution of innocents just makes it that much more barbaric–for in an imperfect system of justice, the execution of the guilty will inevitably result, as we saw so tragically in Georgia recently, of the murder of the innocent.

    Every “illegal alien” awaiting deportation is a political prisoner.

    Every woman shackled to her bed during childbirth is a political prisoner.

    Every inmate who is raped in prison is a political prisoner.

    Every person of color imprisoned for a nonviolent drug crime is a political prisoner.

    Every drug addict in prison instead of a rehabilitation center is a political prisoner.

    Every homeless person arrested for vagrancy is a political prisoner.

  • Posted by SRM

    @Philip Barbee:

    Had you actually done any research on any of the people on the Innocence Project’s list that you so neatly copy-and-pasted, you would have known that a great many of the people on it have been exonerated already and are therefore not wrongfully imprisoned.

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  • Posted by Elliott Abrams

    To the question about compatibility problems, I am a mere blogger whose information technology officers handle that sort of question. Sorry I can’t help.

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    All this is in the public domain, so please go ahead.

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