(08-04) 16:51 PDT San Francisco — Family members and friends of three UC Berkeley graduates who were arrested after apparently crossing into Iran from Iraq were working for their release Tuesday as Iranian authorities confirmed they were holding them and would decide whether to accuse them of spying.
People who know Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal said they probably crossed Iran’s border accidentally while hiking in scenic mountains near a resort, and allegations of espionage are ridiculous.
Bauer, 27, went to Iraq’s Kurdish area with Shourd, his 30-year-old girlfriend, and Fattal, 27, a friend from their days at UC Berkeley, because he is a bold freelance journalist, said his editors at San Francisco’s New America Media.
“Every journalist I know who’s been in that area has trekked into those mountains. They’re majestic,” said Sandy Close, executive editor of New America Media. She said Bauer was interested in Kurdish elections and speaks Arabic but not Farsi, which is spoken in Iran.
Bauer was living in Damascus, Syria, Close said. Shourd has also written freelance articles from the Middle East, while Fattal recently worked and lived at a sustainable living research center and farm in Oregon.
“Allegations of spying would be absurd,” said Jerry Sanders, a senior lecturer at UC Berkeley who advised Bauer in the peace and conflict studies department. “There’s nothing about h… >>>