The two American hikers released from Iran Sunday said they were held hostage because of the Iranian-American power struggle. They also told of cries of tortured inmates.
Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were hiking along the Iraqi-Iranian border two years ago when an Iranian guard called them over. They then were arrested for crossing the border and were accused of being spies for the United States.
Speaking of their ordeal, Fattal told a press conference after arriving in New York, "We had to go on hunger strike repeatedly just to receive letters from our loved ones. Many times, too many times, we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten and there was nothing we could do to help them.
"It was clear to us from the very beginning that we were hostages. This is the most accurate term because, despite certain knowledge of our innocence, Iran has always tied our case to its political disputes with the US."
"Josh and I have experienced a taste of the Iranian regime's brutality," said Bauer. "We have been held in almost total isolation from the world and everything we love, stripped of our rights and freedom."
"The only explanation for our prolonged detention is the 32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran. We were convicted of espionage because we are American. It's that simple.
"The two court sessions we attended were a total sham. They were made up of ridiculous lies that depicted us as being involved in an elaborate American-Israeli conspiracy to undermine Iran."
They said they did not realize they were being released last week, when guards suddenly took them downstairs but did not return them to their cell. The two hikers were given street clothes and were led to another part of the Tehran prison, where an Oman official told them, “Let’s go home.”