Using this to get Hoder freed? September 13, 2011 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Iran president: US hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal to be freed ‘in a couple of days’ Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says alleged spies will be released on ‘humanitarian’ grounds. Is there any way this news can help us get Mefi's Own Hoder freed?

No new updates on Hoder's family's blog, and I haven't seen any response or comment by officials from canada or the u.s., but I'm wondering if there is some way to use this to raise awareness or otherwise help get Hoder out of his prison cell in Iran.
posted by cashman to MetaFilter-Related at 8:37 AM (55 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

It cost $500,000 for per ordinary hiker. Hoder, the activist blogger, is gonna be more expensive (if even possible), so whatcha got?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:49 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hoder is not a US citizen. The Iranians are treating Hoder as if he were an Iranian, so it's a different game altogether. Those poor dumb hikers were being used more as diplomatic pawns--Hoder is just being punished by an asshole regime.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:54 AM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


If it were just the matter of cash I'd throw in. I'm sure I have an extra quarter of a million somewhere.

Seriously though I'd put a few hundred bucks toward this, but I don't see the other $499,700 being raised.

I personally think this has fuckall to do with Hoder in the end.

I have a few Canadian friends and none of them have even heard of the Hoder case. They might not be media aware, but I get the feeling this isn't exactly a legislative or citizen priority.

If there was something productive that could be done, that wouldn't make it worse for Hoder, I would love to know what to do.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:09 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It cost $500,000 for per ordinary hiker. Hoder, the activist blogger, is gonna be more expensive (if even possible), so whatcha got?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:49 AM on September 13 [+] [!]


We have over 100,000 members. You'd think we'd be able to raise some money if we tried.
posted by Maisie at 9:10 AM on September 13, 2011


We have over 100,000 members.

No we don't. A big chunk of those numbers are uncompleted signups.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:16 AM on September 13, 2011


I'm going to point out that there's a big difference between some money and $500,000.

I also don't think that money was to get the hiker's back, but to let them out on bail. There's a difference.

Even with 100,000 members (and I think that's a bit high) I doubt you'd get more than 1% to actually donate. That falls a bit short.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:17 AM on September 13, 2011


> We have over 100,000 members.

Not even close to that in actuality, and far less are regular, and far less would donate. It's not going to happen that way, sorry.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:17 AM on September 13, 2011


We have over 100,000 members. You'd think we'd be able to raise some money if we tried.

I highly doubt this is a matter of money.
posted by odinsdream at 9:23 AM on September 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Money isn't everything in Hoder's case and possibly might be nothing. Plus, even if the cash was raised and Iran agreed to release for the cash, there's a good chance that Hoder would continue doing what got him arrested in the first place. Not because he's crazy, stupid or wrong, but because he felt strongly about what he was trying to accomplish.

I far from the smartest person on this site, let alone the room I'm in (there's two cats here), but getting Hoder released sounds like it would be back channel negotiation/deal that would have to involve Iran forgiving Hoder for making friendly gestures to Israel on behalf of the Iranian people.

Looking at the Wikipedia page about him, it says he was temporary released on a 1.5m bail in 2010 and was out for a little bit in 2011, enough to make Facebook post. That seems odd and unbelievable.

The Letters to Hoder site is looking a bit empty at the moment. Maybe write him a letter that he can hopefully one day read?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:30 AM on September 13, 2011


Looks like Iran is in the hostage taking business. Grab a foreigner and ransom them off for $500,000 "bail".
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:45 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a few Canadian friends and none of them have even heard of the Hoder case. They might not be media aware, but I get the feeling this isn't exactly a legislative or citizen priority.

It was given very minor media attention here, and if the government is doing anything at all it is doing it behind the scenes. Most people don't know about it, and frankly whatever "pressure" Canada can exert on Iran isn't going to have the same effect as it would coming from the US.
posted by Hoopo at 9:45 AM on September 13, 2011


Looks like Iran is in the hostage taking business.

Crossing a border illegally doesn't get you treated very well in the USA either, and Americans hiking along the Iraq/Iran border makes for sort of an odd cover story.
posted by Hoopo at 9:48 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Iran is out my tourist dollars for sure!
posted by cjorgensen at 9:51 AM on September 13, 2011


> Iran is out my tourist dollars for sure!

You say that jokingly but there are actually lots of swell places in Iran that I would love to visit but will defer until saner times. Hopefully, there will be saner times.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:53 AM on September 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


Looks like Iran is in the hostage taking business.

Crossing a border illegally doesn't get you treated very well in the USA either,


The penalty for crossing into the US is a 5,000 dollar fine and/or up to one year in prison.

Not really seeing the equivalence, here.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:11 AM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eh, the Iranians are bastards but they aren't doing it for the measly $1 million they got out of it.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:13 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not making an equivalence. But if you're a citizen of a country that has threatened to nuke Iran and you're taking a nice hike along their border with Iraq, which your military is currently occupying, and the same military has a recent history of illegally crossing borders to pursue military operations, it might be a little different than "taking foreigners hostage and holding them ransom". Just sayin, those guys probably shouldn't have been doing that given current circumstances.
posted by Hoopo at 10:22 AM on September 13, 2011 [8 favorites]



You say that jokingly but there are actually lots of swell places in Iran that I would love to visit but will defer until saner times. Hopefully, there will be saner times.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:53 AM on September 13 [2 favorites +] [!]


That was one of the tragedies of Iraq. The rampant destruction of cultural heritage, under Saddam sure, but especially during the American invasion. It's such a beautiful, rich, fascinating corner of the world.

Anyway I'm sorry to hear about this, and the Hoder thing is pretty shameful on the part of the Harper regime. He's not the first Canadian that they've abandoned to the whims of foreign powers.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:23 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hoopo: "I'm not making an equivalence. But if you're a citizen of a country that has threatened to nuke Iran and you're taking a nice hike along their border with Iraq, which your military is currently occupying, and the same military has a recent history of illegally crossing borders to pursue military operations, it might be a little different than "taking foreigners hostage and holding them ransom". Just sayin, those guys probably shouldn't have been doing that given current circumstances."

No one ever accused these three hikers of being smart. But, they are also innocent victims here of one nation, Iran, using them as pawns and levers in their relationship with another, USA. You may choose to look at it some other way and rationalize it, but I choose to see a $500,000 bail as a shakedown and hostage negotiation not a "humanitarian release".
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:15 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's a good idea to encourage repressive foreign regimes to kidnap local internet celebrities for ransom money.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:18 PM on September 13, 2011


> . But, they are also innocent victims here of one nation, Iran, using them as pawns and levers in their relationship with another, USA.

They are more than likely innocent, but keep in mind that the Iranians are (perhaps rightly so given the history of CIA involvement in that country) excessively paranoid about such matters and probably took some time to fully ascertain that these were unfortunate strays rather than undercover spies. Now, that doesn't excuse holding on to them for so long and the high bond, but from their point of view they did have a legitimate cause for detention initially.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:19 PM on September 13, 2011


not a "humanitarian release".

Don't get me wrong, I'm not buying the "humanitarian" line either. I have no idea why bail is $500,000; $1.5 million is not really a lot of money to a country approaching a trillion in GDP and growing. They are fucking with the USA for sure, but saying they're "in the hostage taking business" because of this is disingenuous.

Sometimes Metafilter reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where everything needs to be prefaced with something to the extent of "not that anything's wrong with that."
posted by Hoopo at 2:01 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Those poor dumb hikers were being used more as diplomatic pawns-

They might really have been spies. "Ordinary guys", out hiking on the Iran/Iraq border? In the middle of a war? And weren't they carrying some kind of unusual transmission equipment?

I think it's quite likely that they actually are CIA agents. This is a fee to return active operatives, not a ransom after kidnapping.
posted by Malor at 2:05 PM on September 13, 2011


> I think it's quite likely that they actually are CIA agents.

I don't think so in this case. They were pretty heavily invested in their work in Iraq, and why would the CIA be sending white Americans in as spies? They work their HUMINT much differently than that, and any spies on the ground would be or at least look native.

These were idiots.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:12 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Malor: They might really have been spies. "Ordinary guys", out hiking on the Iran/Iraq border? In the middle of a war?

I dunno. I mean, I guess it's possible, but I was taken into custody by the Kurds after crossing the border in the mountains between Iran and Iraq during the early stages of the war. I was also labelled a spy and handed over to the CIA, which began my three weeks of "free accommodation" and relentless Q&A sessions. I was just "lucky" and happened to be apprehended by people who didn't hate my country of origin. Anyway, what I'm getting at is I'm pretty darn sure I'm not an agent of any government; just a curious monkey who wants to see shit for himself.
posted by gman at 2:32 PM on September 13, 2011 [17 favorites]


You spy!
posted by cjorgensen at 2:34 PM on September 13, 2011


but I'm wondering if there is some way to use this to raise awareness or otherwise help get Hoder out of his prison cell in Iran.

In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit.

These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune.

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The A-Team.
posted by banshee at 2:57 PM on September 13, 2011


You're really only supposed to make gallows humor if you're the one actually about to have his neck snapped, you know.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:00 PM on September 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


They might really have been spies. "Ordinary guys", out hiking on the Iran/Iraq border? In the middle of a war?

You'd be surprised what people get up to. just because it does not fall into your realm of experience doesn't make it automatically OMFG Spieeeez! People get up to all sorts of silly/stupid/cool crap that has little to nothing to do with governments and war.

And weren't they carrying some kind of unusual transmission equipment?

They where? I well could have missed that, but first I heard about it. Could you provide a link for that claim from some source other than the Iranian govt.? Otherwise the claim just falls into the dustbin of "didn't I hear edgeways has a RPG in his garden shed?"
posted by edgeways at 3:01 PM on September 13, 2011


I think they had a satellite phone, which isn't that unusual. They also weren't exactly "in the middle of a war" there in Kurdistan. Anyway, the CIA no doubt has people in Iran, but they are recruited and managed a lot differently sneaking white US citizens in.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:08 PM on September 13, 2011


I want my over $9000 back.
posted by Elmore at 3:35 PM on September 13, 2011


I take back my stupid jokey comment. Sorry.
posted by Elmore at 3:36 PM on September 13, 2011


And weren't they carrying some kind of unusual transmission equipment?

yeah, this smacks of the old "his house contained materials that could be used in making a bomb" line. It's basically something the government tosses out when it needs some kind of justification to hold on to someone a bit longer so they can put him in a cage and poke him with a stick until they're satisfied he's not a bad guy.
posted by Hoopo at 4:18 PM on September 13, 2011


gman, is that for real?
posted by Dasein at 5:27 PM on September 13, 2011


Yeah, it is. That'd be some pretty weird shit to make up, especially considering the topic of this MeTa. I just found this quick comment I posted three years ago about the beginning of the experience. And here are some photos from the trip, most of which were taken after I was released, but the first one is in the cell I spent a couple nights in, and the second photo was taken in a warden's office where we also spent a night. After that, we were kept in a guarded guest house room for the remainder of our interrogation. Every morning we were marched over to a massive security building where we were questioned for hours on end by either the Kurds or the CIA.

The very first thing the CIA wanted me to know was that any rights I thought I might have, did not exist in Iraq. I was repeatedly told that they had no reason whatsoever to let me go and that if I didn't admit to the allegations against me, I'd rot in a cell in Shaqlawa. Thing is, the allegations kept changing. As mentioned above, initially, I was labelled a spy. Then I was apparently there to kill troops, and finally, they claimed I was wanted in my home country and hiding out in Iraq. Hoopo was dead on with his/her comment above.

My father, having contacted the closest embassy (Amman, Jordan), can attest to how useless/powerless they were in helping to secure my release. Without getting into any of the details, it took a friend of the family's connections with someone high up in the US government to get me out.

The CIA strongly suggested I leave immediately, but there was no way I was limiting my time in Iraq to their custody. Hence the other photos in that album.
posted by gman at 6:26 PM on September 13, 2011 [20 favorites]


Without getting into any of the details, it took a friend of the family's connections with someone high up in the US government to get me out.

I'm glad you made it back alive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:38 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


That'd be some pretty weird shit to make up, especially considering the topic of this MeTa.

Yeah, I figured for that reason (plus your record here) that you weren't making that up, but...damn.

Wait, just read your linked comment - you STAYED in Iraq? You are one crazy motherfucker, and I mean that in the best possible way.
posted by Dasein at 6:45 PM on September 13, 2011


gman is Mefi's own Chuck Norris.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 8:33 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


gman facts:

gman doesn't request ponies. Pb preemptively delivers them.

gman does not take it to MetaTalk. Metatalk takes it to him.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 8:44 PM on September 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


gman Flags it and Stays Stays Standing Right There, Motherfucker
posted by Rumple at 9:22 PM on September 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


gman: crossing ur borders n drinkin ur sodas.

j/k, g; scary story and cool pics. Glad you got out and are here to tell us!
posted by taz at 9:29 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The CIA strongly suggested I leave immediately, but there was no way I was limiting my time in Iraq to their custody. Hence the other photos in that album.

Smart.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:08 AM on September 14, 2011


gman is da man (not to be confused with The Man).
posted by Meatbomb at 1:27 AM on September 14, 2011


Awwww thanks for the kind words everybody. The one thing I'm sorry about is that it was not my intention to make this MeTa about me in anyway. I was just relating a story that I thought applied to the post here.

hal_c_on: Smart.

Dude, listen. Not that I believe you have my best interests at heart, but I do get the sentiment you expressed. Let me explain a few things to you. I'm a Canadian citizen and I'd spent the nearly five years prior to Iraq on the road learning how to interact with people who have radically different cultures than my own. Growing up in a certain type of Jewish family, I had a dogma rammed down my throat from a very young age; one that I knew came with an agenda. Soon after my Bar Mitzvah, it became my goal in life to see what was going on for myself with a people I was taught to dislike by both my family and the media.

I've spent my fair share of time in the Middle East over the years and I was confident enough in my abilities to blend in (or at least not stick out) to keep myself out of any major trouble. Beheadings of foreigners in Iraq weren't yet occurring in the fall of 2003, and I was confident that my motivations for being there (mentioned above, minus the Jewish part) would keep me out of trouble. And let me tell you, ironic as this might sound, my only problems came from the Americans and their Peshmerga proxy army. I was treated with great respect and received unrivalled hospitality from the Arab population.

It's not that I thought of myself as invincible, but I was aware of, and willing to accept the possible consequences of my actions. I was a Westerner and even if my country hadn't participated in the war there, I could be perceived as an aggressor. I'll share something rather personal with you - for the most part I've always lived my life exactly the way I wanted to live my life; experiencing what other people said was either impossible or unsafe. If something had happened to me during my time in Iraq, I would have fully understood why. The people of Iraq have been through death and destruction on a level you and I will never truly know. Even though I'm fairly young, I used to keep a will that among other things, reflected these sentiments, and before heading into war zones, I'd give it to a person who is very close with me and completely understands my motivations. I didn't want people to be sad for me if something should happen; be sad for their own loss, but don't cry for me, I lived my life.

Anyway, you dropped that single word in here because of dealings we've had in the past on this website. My only suggestion to you is to take your own advice from a few days ago.
posted by gman at 4:17 AM on September 14, 2011 [26 favorites]




They say that one gman is worth ten thousand hal_c_ons or more. I think that's an old Yiddish proverb.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:25 AM on September 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Gman, have you read The Places in Between? Sounds like you two had similar journeys/motivations in some ways (Though I confess, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Stewart was also doing some freelance intel, before, after or during, given his background). Be interested to hear your thoughts about it.
posted by smoke at 5:28 AM on September 14, 2011


You know in Judaism they say there are 42 righteous men among us on the planet at any given time or something like that? You might be lucky enough to meet one of them if you pay attention.

Well, just sayin'
posted by Meatbomb at 5:53 AM on September 14, 2011


Tzadikim Nistarim
posted by odinsdream at 7:53 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is said that Emperor Norton I was one of them.
posted by homunculus at 3:50 PM on September 14, 2011


The penalty for crossing into the US is a 5,000 dollar fine and/or up to one year in prison.

Try doing it as someone from Afghanistan or Yemen.
posted by delmoi at 9:11 PM on September 18, 2011


Let me explain a few things to you
♫ ♩ ♫ Douche Chill ♫ ♪ ♫

This is what you've told me so far:

The same people who are the reason for this journey that finally lead to your enlightenment were the same people who bailed you out because of their connections.

Sorry that I wasn't one of your admirers, but I hardly thought it warranted such a response. Whatevs, I'm down if you are.

I said what I said because it just seemed like another dumb privileged kid doing dumb stuff because (insert reason here).

next you'll tell me you wanted to bring a knife on the plane because your family had always been soup eaters and you were sick of all that chicken noodle shoved down your throat.

Whatever, dude. You were a fucking tourist in a war zone...you should dress it up for whoever you want to sex up, but dude...being a tourist in a war zone is being a tourist in a war zone.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:21 AM on September 21, 2011


Stay classy hal.
posted by odinsdream at 8:41 AM on September 21, 2011




http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15000563

Mr Bauer added: "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."
posted by cashman at 9:44 PM on September 21, 2011


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