Islamic Scholar Joins Effort to Free the Hikers - NBC Bay Area

Islamic Scholar Joins Effort to Free the Hikers



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    AFP/Getty Images
    Detained US hikers Shane Bauer (2nd-L), Sarah Shourd (C-L) and Josh Fattal (2nd-R) sit with their mothers during their first meeting since their arrest, in the Iranian capital Tehran on May 20, 2010. The mothers of three US hikers detained for 10 months in Iran called for their release as a "humanitarian gesture" after an emotional reunion with their children, an AFP correspondent said. AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

    The three Cal grads jailed in Iran on spy charges are getting the support of a prominent member of the Islamic community.

    Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd have been in an Iranian prison for more than a year now after they were arrested just across the border with Iraq. They and their families have said all along that they got lost while hiking in Northern Iraq.

    Islamic scholar Akbar Ahmed asking Iran to release the hikers as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan comes to a close. He is one of many world leaders who has urged Iranian government officials to release the trio.

    The American University professor, who has advised leaders including General David Pateraus, wrote a three-page letter to Iran's supreme leader Ayatolla Ali Khamene’i on behalf of the jailed trio. In the letter, he describes the Cal grads as "the best and brightest in America” and pleads for their release as "one Muslim to another."

    He also goes into detail about the medical impact -- physical and emotional -- the detainment is having on the Cal grads and their families.

    Here’s an excerpt of the letter, which The Huffington Post reprinted:

    I can assure you that I have not been asked by any government or private agency to initiate this letter. I am acting purely out of compassion after hearing the stories of the families. I am a father and a grandfather so I know how parents love and feel for their children.

    Iranian officials say their investigation of Fattal, Bauer, Shourd is nearing completion.