Commentary: Iran should release all of the hikers

Iranian officials apparently hoped to buy some international goodwill with the release of an American hiker who strayed from Iraq to Iran more than a year ago. But the gesture rings hollow as long as two other American hikers remain in custody.

Iranian officials released Sarah Shourd, 32, after more than a year in custody. She was freed from Tehran's Evin Prison a week ago on $500,000 bail.

Shourd was arrested along with two friends, Shane Bauer, her fiancé, and Joshua Fattal as they hiked along the unmarked border between northern Iraq and Iran. Last week, just before Shourd's release, all three were formally charged with espionage and illegally entering Iran.

Shourd is expected to return to Iran for future court appearances.

Why were these three in the region in the first place? Shourd and Bauer had been living in Damascus, Syria, where she taught English and studied Arabic and he was a freelance journalist. Fattal had had just completed a stint as a teacher in a global-travel program for college students, and was visiting his two friends on the way home to Oregon.

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