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Two Belgian tourists who were arrested in Iran in September and held in Evin prison for 3 months on suspicion of espionage before being released have published a statement expressing concern over the well being of 3 American hikers.
The 3 – Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal – were hiking in Iraq on July 31 when they inadvertently crossed the poorly marked border with Iran and were arrested by Iranian authorities. They have been detained in Evin for 6 months.
In a recent statement, the 2 Belgians, Idesbad van den Bosch and Vincent Boon Falleur, said they had had contact with the 3 Americans in Evin and "were deeply concerned about their well-being."
The Belgians were freed without a trial in December, and said that when they left the prison, the Americans were still in solitary confinement. Emphasizing the loneliness and psychological duress of prison life in Iran, the Belgians said they "can only imagine that the pressure [the Americans] are under to confess to crimes they are innocent of is extremely intense."
U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley called the treatment of the 3 American hikers by the Iranian government "outrageous" and noted that it has been 3 months since the Iranians have allowed the Swiss, who act as the U.S. protecting power in Iran, to visit the 3 young people:
"What that tells us is that our 3 American citizens are potentially in deplorable conditions. It is outrageous that Iran refuses to abide by international standards, international agreements in terms of treatment of those who are in their care."
In December, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the 3 young Americans detained by the Iranian government "have absolutely no connection with any kind of action against the Iranian state or government. ... We appeal to the Iranian leadership, to release these young people and free them as soon as possible."