Chomsky urges Iran to free UC Berkeley grads
Inside Bay Area / Sean Maher

Author, lecturer and MIT Professor Noam Chomsky defended Wednesday the three UC Berkeley graduates arrested more than five months ago after walking across an unmarked stretch of the Iran-Iraq border.

Sarah Shourd, 31, Shane Bauer, 27, and Josh Fattal, 27, were arrested by Iranian authorities July 31, 2009, while on a hiking trip their defenders have said was an innocent search for a nearby waterfall. They have been held since and their families said they've had no direct contact.

"I have been deeply concerned at the continued detention of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal, and hope that the Iranian government will be able to arrange for their release without delay," Chomsky wrote in his public statement.

"Iran has ample reason for caution and suspicion with regard to the actions and plans of Washington," he added, "but these young people represent a segment of the U.S. population that is critical of these policies, and often actively opposed to them. Hence their detention is particularly distressing to all of us who are dedicated to shifting U.S. policy to one of mutual respect rather than domination."

"I therefore appeal to the Iranian leadership to act in a humanitarian spirit and release (them)," Chomsky concluded.

For more information on the hikers and the efforts to persuade Iran to free them, visit

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