Iran’s list of hostages is steadily growing despite the Obama Administration’s zealous efforts to engage Iran’s brutal dictatorship. Three young American hikers who accidentally strayed across the Iranian border last summer now face charges of espionage, which is punishable by the death penalty in Iran. Yesterday an Iranian prosecutor indicated that the three hikers, Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 30, and Joshua Fattal, 27, were being investigated as spies after they were arrested, allegedly on the Iranian side of the poorly-marked Iraq-Iran border on July 31. Today Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad piled on by stressing Iran’s right to punish people who illegally crossed its border and suggesting that the United States was responsible for the kidnapping of an Iranian pilgrim in Saudi Arabia.
Last month an Iranian-American scholar, Kian Tajbakhsh, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison because of alleged subversive activity. Tajbakhsh was arrested during the unrest that broke out after Iran’s sham elections last June and he never received a fair trial, which is par for the course in Iran.
Iran also still has failed to satisfactorily explain the disappearance of Robert Levinson, a retired FBI investigator who disappeared in Iran in 2007 after meeting with David Belfield, an American convert to Islam who fled to Iran after he assassinated an exiled Iranian opposition leader, Ali Akbar Tabatabai, in 1980 in Bethesda, Maryland. Levinson is believed to be held in a secret prison in Iran. Clearly, President Obama’s engagement policy has done little to help hostage Americans, let alone the millions of Iranians who are being held hostage by Iran’s criminal regime.