Three American hikers who were jailed in Iran for over a year on spying charges are now suing Tehran for allegedly torturing them in captivity.
Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal had been hiking on Iran’s border with Iraq when they were detained by the Iranian authorities in 2009.
Shourd and Bauer are both journalists by trade and used to be husband and wife. They, along with Fattal, have filed their case in Washington D.C., the US capital, where it is being overseen by Judge Richard Leon.
Judge Leon had previously ordered Tehran to hand out USD 180 million to another journalist, Jason Rezaian, after he too was imprisoned for over a year on spying charges.
Rezaian and the American trio Shourd, Bauer and Fattal have all slammed the charges from the Iranian authorities as baseless.
If the trio receive any damages as a result of the lawsuit, they would be paid out from assets belonging to the Iranian government that have been seized by the United States as a result of sanctions that are part of the congressional Justice for Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund.
According to the lawsuit, Shourd and Bauer were living in Yemen and then Syria in 2008 in order to improve their Arabic. Their friend Fattal visited them in 2009 and the three went hiking to a waterfall in Iraqi Kurdistan.
They reportedly hiked along a road that was later determined to be the border with Iran and they were waved down by an Iranian soldier.
They were detained and sent to the notorious Evin prison in the Iranian capital Tehran.
They were accused of being spies but have denied the charges as fabricated, claiming instead that they were tortured during their time in Iranian custody.
Shourd was freed in 2010 and the two others a year later. Shourd was released at the end of Ramadan after the intervention of then President Ahmadinejad. And it is believed that Bauer and Fattal were released to give the then president a political boost ahead of a UN General Assembly in New York.
Now the trio, who all reportedly struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), are seeking damages from Iran over their ordeal.