Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Hitch for Hikers

From the New York Daily News

The American hikers in Iran plan to appeal the verdict and the eight-year prison sentence, their lawyer said on Sunday.
Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were sentenced on Saturday, more than two years after they were arrested with a third hiker on the Iran-Iraq border. They were sentenced to five years on charges of espionage and three years on charges of illegal entry. The third hiker, Sarah Shourd, was released last year for health reasons.
Their lawyer said he will continue to fight to have the men released.
"We have 20 days to appeal and I will try my best to use all legal means to annul the sentence," lawyer Masoud Shafiee told Reuters.

Now, if I might ask: what in blazes are people doing, hiking around the Iran-Iraq border?  I know, I'm a liberal let-'em-do-their-own-thing sort of guy, but is there anything about the border between Iran and Iraq that sounds or feels or even seems hospitable to Americans?  I look at this map and I feel no invitation.

I doubt that these three young people were functioning as spies.  That's an easy charge to level at them, since it would be easy to get a jury anywhere in the world to believe that they were backpacking because they had to, rather than doing it as a hobby.

They used to call Maryland "America in Miniature," because we have just about every type of terrain except that of a desert.  You want to climb mountains?  Western Maryland has mountains, and while they may lack the grandeur of Mt McKinley, Alaska, they are also much closer to the rest of the marvels of Maryland, which include an ocean of some size, vast acres of wetlands, farms from here til Tuesday and the splendid Chesapeake Bay.  

One can hike Maryland with little fear of being caught up in the sectarian violence that has plagued the Iran-Iraq border since the Apostles wore sandals.  Just don't try to muscle in on the drug trade in the cities and you'll be fine.  The hardy farmers of Western Maryland, the exurbanite suburbanites of the counties that ring Baltimore City like pineapples around a ham, and the salty watermen and women of the Eastern shore welcome you.  

And don't worry about it, should you find yourself and your backpack staying overnight in the hoosegow.  As any Baltimorean over the age of three weeks knows, if you have a phone, you have a lawyer!

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