A U.S. military field report made public by WikiLeaks reveals a frenetic effort to locate three American hikers shortly after they were detained near Iran’s border with the Kurdish region of Iraq.
The report written on the day of their capture, July 31, 2009, describes the situation of Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd as a kidnapping.
That report, among thousands of previously secret military documents related to the Iraq War being released by WikiLeaks, said three American tourists were being taken and lists several possible locations for the incident, all on Iraqi soil.
The U.S. deployed a drone aircraft to try and locate the hikers. Two F-16 jet fighters were also placed on alert.
KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:
The three UC Berkeley graduates have been accused by Iranian authorities of crossing the border in order to spy. The hikers deny those claims, and no formal charges have been filed against them.
The military document first reported by the New York Times on Friday also outlines frustration that accusing the three hikers of being spies would allow Iran to focus its population on perceived external threats.
Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies program at Stanford University, said Tehran would have a tough time using the hikers to stoke anti-American sentiment.
“The idea that three Americans caught in a part of the border where everyone knows Kurds travel back and forth can hardly be construed as a national emergency,” he said.
Shourd was released from captivity last month. Bauer and Fattal are still being held in Iran.
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