Editor's Note: Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, from which this piece is reprinted. You can read Abrams' blog Pressure Points here.
By Elliott Abrams, CFR.org
In the last year I have written several blog posts about the American hikers imprisoned in Iran, hoping to help keep attention focused on getting them freed. Like every American I was delighted to see them out, finally, yesterday.
But like many Americans, I was not delighted by the statement made immediately by one of the two, Shane Bauer. After thanking the Sultan of Oman for helping get them out, he said this:
Two years in prison is too long and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran.
Who exactly are the “political prisoners” in America?
Can we have some names? Who exactly are the “unjustly imprisoned people” in America, and how precisely does Mr. Bauer know them to be “unjustly imprisoned” rather than convicted according to due process of law?
Given that Mr. Bauer has just suffered two years imprisonment by Iran for the crime of hiking and mistakenly crossing a border, is he entirely comfortable with his comparison of the two countries in the statement just quoted? So it would appear. Thinking of the immense diplomatic activity this country undertook to free him and the enthusiasm with which his liberation was greeted yesterday, that statement of his leaves a very bad taste.