He's a liberal investigative reporter for the Nation magazine, who strayed into dangerous terroritory in search of a story. Now he and his two pals are paying a terrible price.
"...Three UC Berkeley graduates arrested in Iran in July broke the law and must be punished, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said this week - but implied that a U.S. decision to release some Iranian prisoners could make a difference in their fates.
The Iranian president's comments, made Thursday to NBC News, may say less about the prisoners' likely fates than about the complicated political chessboard on which they are now pawns, said Kamran Bokhari, regional director for the Middle East and South Asia at Stratfor, a private global intelligence company.
"What he's saying is we can work out a deal - without actually saying it," Bokhari said Friday.
Ahmadinejad's comments, in his first interview with a Western broadcaster since his disputed re-election in June, come at a moment of flux, as the Obama administration tries to reboot U.S.-Iranian relations and as Iran's domestic situation is in turmoil.
The Iranian president is coming to the United States to address the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday in New York. Families of the three imprisoned Americans - Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal - sent a letter to him this week asking for their release.
The families maintain that although two of the three detainees are journalists, their entry into Iran was an innocent mistake during a hiking trip in the neighboring Kurdish region of Iraq. U.S. State Department officials said Thursday that the Iranians have failed to make the three available to Swiss officials who represent U.S. interests in Iran, where there is no American Embassy.