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Sarah  Shourd

Sarah Shourd

Teacher & Activist Captured by Iranian Forces



Sarah Shourd is an author, prisoner rights advocate, contributing editor at Solitary Watch and a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley—currently based in Oakland, California. Shourd was held as a political hostage by the Iranian government from 2009-2010. She was captured, along with her two companions, while hiking near the unmarked Iran/Iraq border in semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan while on a weeklong trip from her home in Damascus, Syria. Read More >

Shourd was held incommunicado in solitary confinement for 410 days before being released, without a trial or any evidence shown against her, by President Ahmadinejad on “compassionate grounds,” a move designed to ease international pressure against the Iranian government.
Upon her release, Shourd worked tirelessly for the release of her fiancé and friend, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, appearing on Oprah and meeting with key figures such as Hilary Clinton, President Obama, President Talabani, actor Sean Penn, boxer Muhammad Ali, musician Cat Stevens and President Ahmadinejad himself.

The cynical game the Iranian government played with the lives of the “Three American Hikers” in hope of gaining concession from the U.S. government finally ended in September 2011 when Bauer and Fattal were released. Shourd and Bauer were finally able to get married in May, 2012.

Shourd spent her 20s doing human rights, anti-war and international solidarity work around the world. She lived as a peace observer and participated in Zapatista indigenous movement in Chiapas, Mexico. She organized with mothers from Juarez, Mexico who lost their daughters in a spree of unsolved murders many have coined “femicide.”

Shourd spent a year living in Damascus, Syria teaching Iraqi refugees with the Iraqi Student Project. She now writes, speaks and advocates against the use of prolonged solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. Shourd’s written for The New York Times, CNN, SF Chronicle, Newsweek’s Daily Beast and has a blog on Huffington Post. Her memoir A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran — co-authored by Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal — was published by Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt in March 2014. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

A Sliver of Light

How One Person Can Make a Difference

Iran & the Middle East: An Insider’s Perspective

Connect with Sarah Shourd