US Citizens Charged With Espionage In Iran, Social Media Responds
Three US citizens -- Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal were formally charged with espionage by Iran's authorities on Monday. The three were arrested while crossing Iraq-Iran border on July 31 of this year. They claim they got lost while hiking and strayed over the Iranian border. If convicted, the three can be facing death penalty.
"The three are charged with espionage. Investigations continue into the three detained Americans in Iran," Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, the Tehran general prosecutor, said on Monday.
According to the US legal dictionary, the definition of espionage includes spying on the federal government and/or transferring state secrets on behalf of a foreign country. If the other country is an enemy, espionage may be treason, which involves aiding an enemy. The term applies particularly to the act of collecting military, industrial, and political data about one nation for the benefit of another.
The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is in Berlin today, said all three are innocent and should be released. Meanwhile, back in the US supporters have been rallying online for the release of the hikers.
A website called FreeTheHikers has been set up with action alerts for "100 days hope vigil" held throughout the country. The site keeps a digital clock of the number of days and hours that the hikers spent in Iranian prison so far.
A Facebook page "Free the Hikers: Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd in Solidarity" was also created to call for the support of the detained hikers. The group has over 4,500 members and lots of recent comments of people praying for the US hikers and keeping them in their thoughts.
Finally, a Twitter account @freethehikers has nearly 500 followers and is allegedly maintained by the 'families and friends' of the detained hikers.
Detained Hikers. Who are they?
- 31 years old
- a teacher-activist-writer from California currently based in the Middle Easta contributing writer to the websites MatadorPulse and New America Media
- an ESL teacher/writer at Iraqi Students Project
- UC Berkeley - graduated in May 2003 with a B.A. in English
- 27 years old
- a 2007 honors graduate in peace and conflict studies from UC Berkeley
- has been working in North Africa and the Middle East, using his fluency in Arabic, the language he minored in
- recently has produced stories on Iraq and Syria for San Francisco-based New American Media
- 27 years old
- attended UC Berkeley for three semesters, from fall 2003 through fall 2004, graduating in December 2004 with a B.S. in environmental economics and policy from the College of Natural Resources
- an environmental worker from Oregon
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Clearlake, California, United States