Two independent eyewitness say Iranian forces crossed the border into Iraq to arrest the three Americans last July. Then a rogue officer took over custody.
Since their arrest last July by Iranian forces near the Iraq border, three Americans — Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd — have been at the center of a high-stakes diplomatic struggle between Tehran and Washington. Iranian authorities have repeatedly accused the three of entering Iran to conduct espionage. Meanwhile, friends and family of the three, along with the State Department, the Committee to Protect Journalists, The Nation and The Investigative Fund [Bauer has written Investigative Fund stories that appeared in The Nation and Mother Jones], have rejected the spying charge and suggested that the Americans accidentally crossed the border while on a recreational hike. Despite a well-publicized visit by the detainees’ mothers in May, Iran has released little information about the circumstances of their arrest or the status of their case.
The Nation and The Investigative Fund have located two witnesses to the arrest who claim that Bauer, Fattal and Shourd were on Iraqi territory when they were arrested — not in Iran, as Iranian officials have asserted. Two additional sources report that the Revolutionary Guards officer who likely ordered their detention has since been arrested on charges of smuggling, kidnapping and murder.