Former Iran Prisoner: “Oman initiated our release, not the State Department”

Posted: 12:29 am EDT
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Shane Bauer is one of the three Americans who were hiking in a mountainous region of Turkey near Iran in June 2009 when they were seized by Iranian border guards. He and his friend Joshua Fattal were detained in Evin prison in Tehran for more than two years. He was charged on August 21, 2011 with espionage and illegal entry and given an eight year sentence. On September 21, 2011, one month after his sentence, Mr. Bauer (and Mr. Fattal) was released and allowed to return to the United States.

He is now a senior reporter at Mother Jones, covering criminal justice and human rights. As news broke this weekend about the Iran prisoner swap, Politico reported that he called Clinton’s appeal for more sanctions “totally irresponsible” and accused her of constantly inflaming tensions with Iran. Read Politico’s story here. He also tweeted this:

In October 2011, the NYT had this item about the passing of FSO Philo Dibble. He died on October 1, 2011, 10 days after Fattal and Bauer were released:

Philo Dibble, a career Foreign Service officer who played a central role in the release of two American hikers who had been held in an Iranian prison for more than two years, died at his home in McLean, Va., on Oct. 1, 10 days after the hikers were freed. He was 60.

The cause was a heart attack, said his wife, Elizabeth Link Dibble, who is also a State Department official. Both worked in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, where he was deputy assistant secretary of state for Iranand she is the bureau’s principal deputy secretary.

“Philo really was the lead in the State Department for coordinating all U.S. government efforts regarding the release of the hikers,” Jeffrey D. Feltman, the Near Eastern bureau’s assistant secretary, said Thursday.

While explaining that he could not provide details because “it’s pretty sensitive,” Mr. Feltman said Mr. Dibble had coordinated efforts with diplomats from other nations, including Oman and Switzerland, in trying to free the hikers. (Switzerland has represented American interests in Iran since the hostage crisis of 1979-81.)

We may not know the full story how the release of the hikers went down until somebody from State writes a book about it or do an ADST oral history but some random Internet person actually tweeted what we were thinking:

Emails about the hikers were part of the latest Clinton email dump. Below is a selection of the emails:

Bauer’s letter to D/S Bill Burns with a redacted request – PDF
Statement of Facts issued by the State Department for Mr. Bauer – PDF
The hikers’ parents letter to President Obama copied to State – PDF
OpsAlert updates during release of two hikers – PDF
Bauer and Fattal statements after release (transcript) PDF


One response

  1. Per the statements of Fattal and Bauer, it is quite reasonable for them to believe that Oman and Switzerland did the heavy lifting to secure their release given that it was envoys from both with whom they interacted during that time. And if either envoy were in communication with State, it doesn’t appear that they communicated that to Fattal and Bauer.

    Further, the whole reason we have access to this trove of email traffic that lets us see a peek into what was being said at the time is from the FOIA requests and investigations due to the now proven lies Sec. Clinton has repeatedly told about her email practices while serving State. Some say that she is vulnerable to criminal charges because of this. Maybe, maybe not. But imho the greatest damage is the lack of truthfulness. The desire for subterfuge. And now that the email traffic showed Abedin pushing back against Clinton having a Blackberry specifically to accomodate FOIA needs, the proof of willful misrepresention (aka lies) increases. Why does this matter? Because it demonstrates a pattern of someone willfully misrepresenting the truth for political protection/gain in a manner that harmed the business of State, and showed disregard for U.S. citizens who expect their officials to represent them and their country through respecting/following our rule of law. The legacy is that State’s credibility for truthfulness is damaged given her practices were known and accomodated.

    So if one were to weigh Bauer’s comment versus State officials and say “where is the truth?” it’s hard to blindly side in favor of State. That’s what Clinton’s legacy is for State. It’s shameful. And the officials who knew at the time and tolerated it and said nothing now should be ashamed of themselves too. Perhaps if they had done, then they wouldn’t be in the position of defending their diplomatic work now.