Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal

Update, 4:10pm: Reader Diana Rossi reports that she made a call to the number cited in our story below and that her experience was frustrating. We made inquiries with people close to the campaign and this is their response:

Thank you so much for the piece in Berkeleyside. I am so grateful. In terms of your [reader’s] experience calling the Iranian Interests Section, it has been similar to what many others have heard. They have given excuses, told people to call other places, and said it is the wrong number to call. Please be assured that the DC office is the highest level Iranian office in the US. Our campaign the last few days has been a resounding success, which is why the Iranian Interests section has been so rude and short with callers. The best way to get through is press 2 for non Iranian citizens, 2 for general information, and 1 or 0 to speak to a representative.

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It was two years ago this month that three former Cal students were arrested in Iran and detained on suspicion of spying.

Sarah Shourd was released last Fall, but Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal are still in prison and are expected to face trial on July 31.

A campaign to help release Bauer and Fattal has declared this week a week of action and is urging people to show their support for the two men, who could face many more years behind bars if convicted.

“One Million Voices for Shane and Josh” is hoping to blitz Iranian authorities in the U.S. with telephone calls from supporters from around the globe. A campaign statement reads: “We will remind the Iranian government that the whole world is watching and wants Bauer and Fattal’s immediate release to their family.”

Berkeley councilmember Gordon Wozniak has a personal connection with the two ex-Cal grad students as they are friends of his son and daughter- in-law. “These two former Cal student are caught up in a web of international political intrigue and face additional years in prison for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said in an email to garner support. “Let us not forget those who are imprisoned unjustly.”

The campaign asks that this week, though Friday at 5pm EST, people call the Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Washington D.C. at (202) 965-4990 and leave the following message: “I am a supporter of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. I know that the two are not spies and urge you to release them and allow them to travel home to their families tomorrow.”

For more details visit the Two Years is Too Long! website and the Free the Hikers website.

Tracey Taylor

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...

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3 Comments

  1. Unfortunately I don’t believe calling them is going to make much of a difference.  They don’t even respond clearly to simple questions regarding travel, citizenship, etc. 

  2. Diana: Thanks for letting us know about this.

    Unfortunately there are no contact details on either of the hikers’ websites mentioned in the story. However, we are making inquiries about the question you raise over the phone number. We will see what we can find out and report back if we get a response.

  3. I just tried calling the number listed in the article, and after wading through various extensions, and being put on hold, etc. I was able to speak to a person who was not very sympathetic and would not let me finish my message. He said that this was the Consulate, and what did the Consulate have to do with issues of spying or politics.
    I lamely argued with him, but felt like there was no noting of my phone call.

    Is there a better extension, in order to reach the “Interests Section” as noted above?