Saturday, September 25, 2010

9-25-10: The Release of Sarah Shourd

It's difficult for me to take any solid position on Sarah Shourd, the American hiker recently released from Iran after 14 months in prison for allegedly illegally entering Iran with her boyfriend, Shane Bauer, and friend Josh Fattal. After watching Shourd's interview on CNN yesterday morning, I couldn't help but wonder if she felt sorry.

It's not that she was a spy, I never thought she or her friends were anything of the sort. But her story, which she has stuck to since returning, is that she and her friends never entered Iran and had therefore done nothing wrong. She kept saying that, since there is no clear system of markers denoting the Iranian border in the area of Iraq where they were, any crossing into Iran was entirely accidental.

So how does she know whether or not they'd entered Iran or not? By admitting there's no clear border, she's not really disproving Iran's claims that the group illegally crossed the border. Just because there's no "Welcome to Iran" sign doesn't mean they weren't in Iran. There are parts of the United States borders with Canada and Mexico that aren't clearly marked, not to mention various other border regions throughout the world.

I don't think Shourd, Bauer, or Fattal meant to do anything wrong, and Iran certainly didn't win many friends in the West this week with comments from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during an address to the United Nations, but Shourd should admit some fault due to poor judgment used by her and her friends. No one from Iran forced them to hike in that region. Sure, 14 months in prison is kind of harsh, and they weren't acting as spies, but they should take some responsibility for their own actions. Their status as victims should be more limited than the media is making it out to be.

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