By Andrew Lee Butters Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009

The three Americans arrested in July for illegally crossing the border into Iran could hardly have chosen a worse time to go hiking in the mountains of northern Iraq without a local guide. Though merely left-wing activists on an ill-conceived adventure, Shane Bauer (who is also a freelance journalist), Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal were accused of espionage this week by the Tehran prosecutor’s office. And the fact that the charges coincide with accusations by Iran’s regime that Western countries are trying to foment its overthrow in the wake of the country’s disputed presidential elections in June does not bode well for the fate of the three hikers.

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