Video Shows Captured US Hikers Joking And Singing

Video shot just before three U.S. citizens were arrested while entering Iran from Iraq demonstrates claim that they were just innocent vacationers and should be released. The Kurdish authorities identified the Americans as Shane Michael Bauer, of Emeryville, Calif.; Joshua Felix Fattal, of Cottage Grove, Ore.; and Sarah Emily Shourd, of Oakland, Calif. Kurdish officials said they were students, two of whom were studying Arabic in Damascus, Syria. Mr. Bauer and Ms. Shourd have also worked as freelance journalists, with recent articles from the Middle East. Writing on the Web site Brave New Traveler, Shourd,  described herself as a “teacher-activist-writer from California currently based in the Middle East. Bauer, who is Shourd’s boyfriend, wrote an article from Baghdad for the June issue of The Nation magazine on the Iraqi Special Operations Forces. Two video clips, shot by a fourth hiker, Shon Gabriel Meckfessel, a native of California, was not arrested, show the trio joking and singing while in Iraqi Kurdistan two days before they were caught by Iranian authorities for allegedly making an illegal border crossing. Meckfessel had a cold and decided not to join the others. The families of the detained Americans said they would give the video to the Iranian mission at the United Nations.  Iran and the United States have not had formal diplomatic relations since the American hostage crisis of 1979.

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