By Aaron Glantz, NAM
New America Media correspondent Shane Bauer is among three Americans detained over the weekend along the Iranian-Iraq border, along with his girlfriend Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal.
Bauer, 27, who grew up in Onamia, Minn, had filed more than two dozen stories for NAM from Syria and was in Northern Iraq to cover the Kurdish elections, said NAM Executive Editor Sandy Close.
â€œWe were awaiting his coverage when we learned that he and his girlfriend, and another friend, had been arrested by Iranian authorities,â€ she said.
A freelance journalist and fluent Arabic speaker, Bauer has contributed to numerous other publications including the Nation, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Los Angeles Times.
â€œShaneâ€™s dispatches have been enlightening,â€ Close said. â€œHis fluency in Arabic and his writing and photography skills enabled him to provide a valuable lens into what ordinary people are thinking and saying in the Arab world. We consider Shane to be a gifted young correspondent who typifies the long tradition of journalism by the student-traveler learning the craft by doing.â€
At Iranâ€™s Mission to the United Nationâ€™s in New York, spokesperson Mohammed Sahraei refused to elaborate on official state media reports which had referred to Bauer and his fellow travelers as â€œinfiltrators.â€
Iranian state television reported on Sunday that the head of the Iranian Parliamentâ€™s foreign policy committee Alaedddin Boroujerdi said, â€œThis case is currently on its natural course.â€
Their detention has quickly become international news.
On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed to Iran for information, saying U.S. the interests in Iran are asking officials from the Iranian Foreign Ministry for details but have not yet gotten official confirmation of the trioâ€™s arrest. She asked that Iran determine the facts of the case and to â€œreturn them as quickly as possible.â€
â€œAs of a few hours ago, we did not yet have official confirmation that the Iranian government or an instrument of the Iranian government were holding the three missing Americans,â€ Clinton told reporters at the State Department. â€œWe asked our Swiss partners … to please pursue our inquiries to determine the status of the three missing Americans.â€
â€œObviously, we are concerned,â€ Clinton said. â€œWe want this matter brought to a resolution as soon as possible and we call on the Iranian government to help us determine the whereabouts of the three missing Americans and return them as quickly as possible.â€
In New York, the Committee to Protect Journalists said it appeared that the Americans were â€œtargeted for being reportersâ€ and that they were walking along the border because they were backpacking along the mountains that mark the border between Iran and Iraq, â€œfor purely recreational purposes.â€
â€œItâ€™s possible that they walking back and forth the border numerous times without ever knowing it,â€ said CPJâ€™s Mohmmed Abdel Dayem. â€œWe hope that it is a routine thing. We assume the best.â€