Now Safe at Home, Hikers Tell of Terrible Iranian Prisons

The recently freed hikers held a press conference in New York on Sunday

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After a release conveniently timed with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's typically outrage-inducing visit to the UN, the two American hikers held as spies in Iran arrived in New York on Sunday and held a press conference. Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer recounted the horrible experience of being held in an Iranian prison, called for the release of other political prisoners and thanked, among many others, Hugo Chavez and Sean Penn for playing a role in their newly won freedom. (The actor apparently met with his Venezuelan buddy, who lobbied Iran on their behalf.)

And the conditions that the hikers were kept in were about as bad as imagined. Reuters reported: "The men spent the first three months of their detention in solitary confinement before they were put in an 8 foot by 13 foot (2.5 meter by 4 meter) cell together." In complete isolation, they were given a total of 15 minutes on the phone to speak with their families during the entire two years. At the press conference, in the Associated Press video below, the two hikers called for the release of many others still stuck in Iran: "How can we forgive the Iranian government when it continues to imprison so many other innocent people and prisoners of conscience?"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.