September 29th, 2011
02:30 PM ET

Chavez: I asked Ahmadinejad for hikers' release, at actor's behest

[Updated at 3:53 p.m. ET] Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Thursday he called and sent a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asking for the release of detained American hikers at the behest of actor Sean Penn.

Americans Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were released from an Iranian prison last week, after 781 days in captivity.

Chavez said he considers Penn a friend, and after the two spoke about the hikers, he agreed to add his voice directly with the Iranian president.

"If this call and message helped a little, I am glad. Even if it didn't," he said.

Fattal, Bauer and Bauer's now-fiancee, Sarah Shourd, were arrested in July 2009, with Iran saying they strayed across the unmarked border between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran. Shourd was released in 2010.

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Filed under: Iran • Venezuela
soundoff (362 Responses)
  1. ElisabethinCA

    As usual the bigots, uncompassionate, who cares about anybody but me kind of people are posting. Don't you ever get tired of ripping people? Judging peopel? Being so arrogant to think your better than anyone else and your opinion is truth? Get over yourselves. There are lots of people that take comments like yours, especially the really hateful ones and trace your IP address...easy peasy...In fact a reporter did that a few times and found out the nastiest, loudest, most racist, ugly people were scared to death when he knocked on their doors and BEGGED him not to print their names a couple of the men even started crying...hahah most of you are wimps in real life and just use your keyboards as the only power you have or ever will have. Penn knows exactly what Chavez is about..this wasnt at all about making friends with someone like that, he knew Chavez could talk to Ahmadinejad and maybe help. These ppl were hiking, they made a mistake. I am glad that there are some with compassion and understanding left in the world. Next time one of your friends or family are in an accidential situation because they made a MISTAKE...I hope someone is there to help. Because I believe in helping out others. Which makes me better than

    September 29, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Good call judging all those people to be inferior to you. Guess you're not quite as superior as you thought.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • PulTab

      Those people who had their ip traced should get behind a router rather than having their public ip hanging out there for the world to see.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • BVN

      The hubris of mankind knows no bounds.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • One4

      Who paid the Iranians to release them? Because they surely didn't do it on humanitarian grounds.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • One4

      Maybe Chavez or Penn can intervene for this guy in Iran.

      U.S. condemns Iranian pastor's conviction

      September 29, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dave Johnson

    This is non-news. We all know Penn admires and worships dictators. It would have been news if there was some kind of proof that it played a part in their release.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      No, we don't all know that Sean Penn admires dictators and you don't either. I do, however, admire Sean Penn and Chavez for making an effort to free these American citizens from incarceration under horrible conditions in Iran. I am no fan of Chavez as he is a dictator but even dictators sometimes do good things for people that they like so for his show of friendship to Sean Penn, I am grateful.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reader

      Sean Penn does not support dictators. You are hateful and ignorant for making that comment.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Malty

      Sorry Pat, but these dictators did not do this out of the kindness of their hearts. They did it simply to humiliate the administration for what it is unable to do through diplomatic channels. Most high profile releases of western detainees have come on the heals of private citizen efforts (i.e., Jesse Jackson, Jimmy Carter (post presidency), etc.). Sadly, many US citizens play into this charade for the same reason. Let's not fool ourselves.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob

    There ya go. Make Sean Penn ambassador to Venezuela and all of our problems in the world will be solved.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. forwardbias

    i think the hikers were set free because the iranian president was about to give a speech in UN and he wanted a good impression..

    September 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • nagrom

      I like your reasoning. Never thought about it that way but good point.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • John777

      Plus they paid 1 million dollars bail

      September 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • First *S* in STFU is NOT Silent

      Ahmadinejad could not care less what other nations think of him and he has never given up an opportunity to rip on the USA at a UN meeting. He does not seek sympathy...he's a dictator, he doesn't need it. The two events are not remotely connected.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • hez316


      September 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dex Dean

    These ego maniac actors need to stay to their overpaid jobs as actors! They live in an imaginary world and have not got a clue what is going on in the real world. Do they not know reaching out to the likes of Chavez and Iran, undermines our government. These two idiots would do whatever it would take to sink us! Amazing!

    September 29, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • obamamnesty

      Hang on Dex you are insulting Obama donors of the Hollywood elites! The give millions to his campaign. Ease up some! LOL

      September 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      So you think Sean Penn should just attend premieres and charity events with some bimbo on his arm and live a superficial life rather than to use his influence and money to help others. What have you done lately to help the people of Haiti or New Orleans or our citizens in prison in Iran? What have you done in the real world to help others? You are so small minded and jealous of anyone who doesn't fit in your little boxes and it shows clearly in your post. In your 'real' world Penn and Chavez are collaborating to sink America by helping to free Americans. And you call THEM idiots!

      September 29, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • First *S* in STFU is NOT Silent

      You give celebrities too much credit to think they can change world events with a phone call. Chavez must have it in for Penn though, because he obviously intended to create a backlash against him from the overzealous patriotic american populace by mentioning their communication.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      Penn is one of the few people that actually puts his money where his mouth is. You may not be aware of thins but since the earthquake in Haiti Sean Penn has been running what might be the most effective relief organization in Haiti. He's not doing it from New York or some place cushy but from the middle of a Haitian refuge camp. He's not writing checks he's lifting bales and organizing people and actually getting things done for the Haitian people. So maybe he is megalomaniacal – it doesn't matter since he's actually doing something good in the world.

      September 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Penn 2012

    Way to go, Sean! Way to get it done. We have found the solution to all our problems - Sean Penn!

    September 29, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaveman

      He is a fraud and a traitor

      September 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reader

      Don't forget what Kevin Costner did for the BP oil spill, and what Angelina Jolie has done in Africa and other needy areas. Looks like actors make more impactful progress than politicians. I applaud Sean Penn for his bravery.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. obamamnesty

    Hiking? Yeah we all want to go hiking on the border of IRAN! During one of the most dangerous times of our lives. These punks were just plain lucky to be alive. There is always our Southern border to hike on if you want to go hiking and no one will arrest you on either side.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kaveman

    I don't know how what percentage of the public is aware of this fact, but Venezuela (Hugo Chavez) is a MAJOR threat to the USA. He has signed military agreements with Russia, so that Russia may now stage their warheads that much closer to our borders. Additionally, Venezuela is set to be the "refueling point" for the Iranian warships that Iran has declared will now patrol right outside the waters of America.

    Anyone who supports these anti-American countries is a traitor, pure and simple. Sean Penn is a fraud in many other PR scams, i.e. Haiti, Katrina, but this by far is his worst publicity stunt yet.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reader

      Sean Penn is not supporting any dictators. He is got the AMERICANS out of jail! He uses diplomacy to help Americans get out of jail - I dont understand why people can call Sean a traitor!

      You are correct about Russia. Russia also is the #1 supporter of Iran's regime. Russia helped crush the 2009 student uprising in Iran by training anti riot police in Iran. They also support the nuclear plant development in Iran. Russia also had implanted Russian spy cells in the US for decades, a few of which got exposed and were deported last year. Russia is getting its act together to take advantage of the US' problems since US got itself stuck in 3 wars it cannot handle.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • First *S* in STFU is NOT Silent

      The greatest threat to the stability of the USA is your ignorance. Go back to the rock you climbed out from under.

      September 29, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Randy Horiuchi

    Bravo Sean!

    September 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. DJFenz

    It surprises me how these three clowns plan a hiking trip in one of the most troublesome regions in the world, definately some IQ lacking there! Got another trip planned? maybe the mountains of Afghanistan, Lybia, north Korea? Once caught just say your didnt know! ...Clowns!

    September 29, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jstic

    Most of those people are too stupid to know what a router even is. It's surprising that they know how to make their childish posts from a keyboard.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tao2112

    Dude I can fix it! My dad has an awsome set of tools!

    September 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Average Joe


    September 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ken

    Funny how actors actually begin think they are a gift to the world just because we keep paying for their movies... oh wait.. maybe not in this case. my bad

    September 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rudedog

    The hikers were released and hates pop up denouncing it.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
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