September 15th, 2010
04:15 PM ET

Held in an Iranian prison: One man's story

Roozbeh Mirebrahimi was an blogger and political editor for a pro-reformist newspaper in Iran. In 2004 he was arrested as hardliners conducted a sweep of reformist sympathizers

Sarah Shourd, 32, was waiting with her mother in Muscat, Oman, Wednesday to travel back home to the United States after being released on bail the day before from a Tehran prison. Fellow Americans Shane Bauer, 28, who is Shourd's fiance, and their friend, Josh Fattal, 28, remain in jail there.

The three Americans were detained after they allegedly strayed across an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region in July 2009. Iran accused the three of spying, a charge the United States and the hikers have denied.

For more than a year they have been held in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. The prison is known for the harsh conditions - something the hikers' family members have worried about. As the story continues to develop, we wondered what conditions are like in Iranian facilities.

CNN Radio wanted to learn more so they spoke with Roozbeh Mirebrahimi who was a blogger and political editor for a pro-reformist newspaper in Iran. In 2004 he was arrested as hardliners conducted a sweep of reformist sympathizers. He spent two months in solitary confinement during which he says he was beaten and psychologically tortured. He was held under accusations he was working for the West, insulting the supreme leader, belonging to an illegal anti-government organization and having sex outside of his marriage.

Mirebrahimi, who now lives in New York City, opened up to CNN Radio's Steve Kastenbaum about his horrific experience.

Click below to listen to his story:

You can also listen to the CNN Radio Reports' podcast on iTunes or subscribe to the podcast here.

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Filed under: Iran
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Danram

    Yeah, by all means, let's sit on our hands, mouthing empty threats and imposing "sanctions" that have absolutely no effect at all, while these animals learn how to build nuclear weapons.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    September 16, 2010 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Judy

      I believe we are the animals that used the bomb first. Why do people always gloss over that fact.

      September 16, 2010 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. Brian

    It is interesting that the same governments that can turn a blind eye to despotic dictators when it is politically convenient or argue the definition of what is torture vs. "enhanced interrogation techniques" and has the highest portion of its' own population incarcerated; can suddenly get into an emotional flap when a couple of citizens get into legal trouble overseas. To some extent, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    I’m not condoning the Iranians actions; I’m just suggesting that we look through the same prism when examining our own governments’ motives and actions.

    September 16, 2010 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Judy

      Saving stupid Americans from themselves seems to be a primary role of the State Dept. lately. The excuse of hiking in hostile territory and not knowing where you are is a lame one. Remember N. Korea and 2 similarly stupid female journalists?

      September 16, 2010 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. OhioBill

    The inhumane treatment of Iranians at the hands of their government has nothing to do with the hikers' story. They've been torturing dissidents in that country before the hikers' arrest and are doing it as we speak. The best we can do is exposing this regime at every turn and give refuge to their oppressed especially if they're willing to keep fighting their tormentors (like the man in this story). We don't need to attack another country and do "nationbuilding." We already have two messes in Iraq and Afghanistan not to mention our own domestic issues.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Carrie

      Great post! I second that.

      September 16, 2010 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. Yokamo

    This is just lunatic, why in the world they will choose to go for "hiking" in such a sensitive region, Iraq's Kurdistan region in July 2009. I aint saying they are spy but these people should punished back home for shere dumbness. The amount of time and coverage getting wasted on these looney tunes. Its outrageous, people resort to such irresponsible behavior and media favors them.

    September 16, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. southern lady

    They are idiots for going hiking in a restricted area! period! sorry dont feel sorry for them!

    September 16, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  6. Greg

    Heres an idea... If you don't want to be captured and imprisoned for a year in Iran don't go there. Besides you were hiking in Iraq? Why? O honey look over there its sand and OOO over there its some people walking with goats trying not to get there head blown off by insurgents. Yea sounds fun. Try Yellowstone next time.

    September 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nick

    I'm thinking about surfing off of north korea. then maybe some horse back riding on the border of pakistan and afghanistan. anybody with me?

    September 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    There are many good people living in Iran, its a beautiful country; but never go to Iran. Extremely corrupt government, very dangerous leadership, and extremely unpredictable. They fabricate any reason to arrest western people in their anti-western-world propaganda. Iran unfortunately is a very big future risk to the Arab world, and western world. Its about time that Arab countries too take a firm stand against this country and tell the truth; but instead they remain very silent like they always do.

    September 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Andrew Barber

    As a UK/US citizen who was released from Evin prison in August 2010 and just down the hall from SSJ, it amazes me the stupidity of some people's comments. The problems with SSJ stem from the fact that it was blown up politically and the Iranians lost face. I was in Iran, backpacking, and the British embassy chose to keep it quiet and i was out in 58 days. Yes, the Irananians have some governmental problems, but the people are amazing; some of the most kind and hospitalble people i've met in over 70 countries of travelling. The history of iran is phenomenal and i encourage all to see the country. When i read some of the people's outragious comments here, I am astounded. Why would anybody want to ever visit the US based on all the robbing, murders, and deceibt that goes on here. Please people, don't judge a country on the political ideals of a few.

    September 16, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. pjklip

    Jail is no doubt unpleasant in any country. It seems disingenuous to highlight an Iranian prisoner's experience, portraying that country as barbaric/uncivilized when similar abuses have occurred in the prisons at Guantanamo Bay at the hands of American authorities.

    September 16, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. charles payne

    Keep Iran targted with enough ICBM's to set it back to the stone age.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ed

    I am an American. I can go wherever I want to go and do anything I like to do. If something happens to me my government will bail me out. Well, you are wrong, the day when every country fear the US military might is over.

    Assuming they are not in Iran's territory, why are they so dumb to take a chance. If they wanted to hike in a desert and get the thrill why not do it at the Mojave desert, why Iran, this country hates us so much that just having a US passport could get you in trouble.

    September 16, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Scott

    The Hikers Speak!!!

    Shane Bauer
    “We want people to know that we are opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We oppose the US hegemonic policies in the Middle East. We are pro-Palestinian and against the Israeli occupation. Sarah and I met while organizing demonstrations against the Iraq war. We have protested AIPAC. We oppose aggressive US policies against Iran." To his mother Cindy, during her visit to Tehran

    Sarah shourd
    “At some point during the meal it dawns on me that this is my first time sitting around a table with Iraqi people. Realizing this, I tell them that everyday I feel ashamed at what my country has done to their country. I say something about the protests I have helped organize, the books I have read and the t-shirts I have worn, wanting them to know that American people have expressed opposition. It all sounds so small and paltry in the presence of people that have lost so much.”

    Fattal
    “Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, Panama, Grenada, and the Philippines have all seen American troops come and go, leaving upon the explicit demand of the occupied country. The longevity and “success” of the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq are increasingly in question as dead bodies, government lies, and economic carelessness are being exposed."

    Next Stop, North Korea!

    September 17, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
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