Three American hikers arrested in Iran

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Three American hikers were arrested on Friday, July 31 in Iran after they crossed into Iranian territory. Reports say the hikers accidentally crossed into Iran while hiking between Halabja and Ahmad Awa in the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

Iranian state-run television confirmed that authorities were holding the two men and one woman for illegally entering the country. According to reports, the hikers were warned that the Iranian border was close by and to be careful when hiking in the area.

Despite the claim by Iranian television, The United States Department of State is still asking the Swiss government to investigate the matter. The Swiss government represents American interests in the nation.

"We are using all available means to determine the facts in this case. The safety and security of American citizens remains the U.S. government's top priority. We take all detention cases very seriously," said Megan Mattson, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State. "We have asked our Swiss protecting power to confirm these reports with Iranian authorities and, if true, to seek consular access."

The hikers went into Iraq through Turkey on Tuesday July 28, and were staying in a resort located in Ahmad Awa. They then traveled to the Kurdish capital, Irbil, and then went to Sulaymaniyah on Wednesday. According to Kurdish officials, one hiker was ill and stayed in Sulaymaniyah as the others began their hike. The hikers are identified as Shaun Gabriel Maxwell, Shane Bower, Sara Short, and Joshua Steel. It is not yet known which of the hikers stayed behind or who was arrested.