On July 31, 2009, three Americans, Sarah Shourd (32), Shane Bauer (28) and Joshua Fattal (28), were detained by Iranian border guards for alleged espionage while hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan. Iran claims the three crossed into its territory, but the three Americans claim they were kidnapped from within Iraq.
Sarah Shourd was released on $500,000 bail by Iran on September 14, 2010, on humanitarian grounds due to her declining health. The trial of the three hikers began on 6 February 2011; Sarah Shourd will not be returning to Iran to stand trial.
In June 2010, an article in The Nation indicated that two villagers said the hikers were accosted by Iranian authorities while they were on the Iraqi side of the border.