U.S. hiker ‘hid Israeli father from Iranian captors’
One of two US hikers freed from an Iranian jail where they were held for more than two years on charges of spying and illegal entry, has an Israeli father, Haaretz newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Josh Fattal, who was released on Wednesday with fellow US hiker Shane Bauer, managed to hide from his Iranian captors the fact that his father was an Iraqi-born Jew who emigrated to Israel in 1951, the Israeli newspaper said.
It said that Fattal’s father Jacob, who has lived in the United States since completing his military service, declined to give any interviews after his son was arrested in July 2009, in a bid to hide his nationality.
Speaking after his son’s release, Jacob Fattal said he was ecstatic.
“We’re very happy; it’s the greatest gift we could have dreamed of receiving for Rosh Hashanah,” he told Haaretz, referring to the upcoming Jewish New Year.
“The problem was their being American, not Jewish,” he added. “The Iranians used them as a political weapon for two years.”
Fattal and Bauer were arrested with Sarah Shourd near the mountainous border with Iraq on July 31, 2009. All three have always maintained they are innocent of spying and accidentally strayed across the border into Iran.
Shourd, 33, was released last year on $500,000 bail, after the Gulf state of Oman agreed to pay the sum. Oman also paid bail of $400,000 each for Fattal and Bauer.
On August 21, Bauer and Fattal were each sentenced to eight years in prison by a revolutionary court in Tehran on charges of espionage and illegal entry. They have appealed against the ruling.