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Freed hikers say they were held hostage in Iran

by Jorge Hernandez on September 26, 2011

The two U.S. citizens imprisoned in Iran for the past two years are now back on American soil, and their recollection of their time locked up paints an ugly picture of the Middle Eastern nation. Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer say they were essentially hostages due to hostile relations between the U.S. and Iran, according to Reuters.

Speaking at a press conference in New York City, Bauer and Fattal called Iran's case against them a "total sham" involving "ridiculous lies that depicted us as being involved in an elaborate American-Israeli conspiracy to undermine Iran." Bauer added that they were "convicted of espionage because we are American. It's that simple. No evidence was ever presented against us."

Fattal and Bauer, along with another companion, Sarah Shourd, were hiking along the Iraq-Iran border in the summer of 2009 when they were arrested on charges of espionage. Shourd was released last year after posting $500,000 bail, while Fattal and Bauer were released only a few days ago after posting $1 million.

Last month, during a closed trial, the two men were sentenced to eight years in prison. Recent negotiations allowed the two men to be freed and return to the U.S.

According to CNN, the hikers said that while they were being held, they experienced isolation and brutality. When they would complain of the conditions in the prison, guards would remind the hikers of conditions at Guantanamo Bay.

They didn't put all of the blame on Iran, however. During the conference, Bauer stated that while there is no excuse for the way they were treated in prison, actions by the U.S. have allowed nations like Iran to "act in kind."

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