Talabani Intervened for Hikers’ Release, While Judiciary Denies the News
Shargh Newspaper reported this morning (14 September 2011) that the release of American prisoners Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer is a result of mediation by the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. During a television interview on Tuesday, 13 September, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told NBC that the two Americans were released unilaterally and on humanitarian grounds. Last September, another American prisoner, Sarah Shourd, was released after the King of Oman mediated and her $500,000 bail was posted by an anonymous individual.
The Iranian Judiciary has simultaneously announced that “the two US citizens accused of espionage have not been released and their lawyer’s request for bail and their release is under consideration.” According to Mehr News Agency, the Iranian Judiciary’s Public Relations and Protocol Office has denied news about the release of the two Americans charged with espionage. The Iranian Judiciary has further said that any information disseminated about this issue will be done by the Judiciary and statements made by other sources are not valid.
According to Shargh Newspaper, “in late August, after verdicts for the two imprisoned American suspects were announced by Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court, their families contacted the Iraqi President, asking for his mediation to release their children.”
Mohammad Majid Al-Shaikh, the Iraqi Ambassador to Tehran, confirmed the news and provided further details about the impending release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. “After receiving a request from the families of the two detained American suspects, the Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, contacted high-ranking Iranian officials to mediate and asked for the pardon and release of the two individuals. Talabani was eventually able to convince the high-ranking officials to pardon Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, even though this ruling also comes with a bail order of $500,000 like Sarah Shourd’s ruling.”
According to Iranian laws, the Supreme Leader can take pardon requests for prisoners under advisement and may ask the Iranian Judiciary to pardon certain individuals. It is not clear in the Shargh Article which “high-ranking Iranian officials” were approached by Mr. Talabani.