Muhammad Ali Petitions for U.S. Hikers Detained in Iran

Mar 18, 2011, 04:25

Muhammad Ali, one of the most recognized and accomplished athletes in American history, has decided to get involved in the situation involving hikers detained in Iran. This week, Ali has sent a petition to Iran asking for the release of two American hikers who have been held on charges of espionage since 2009.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were arrested after they accidentally crossed into Iran while hiking in Iraq 18 months ago. A third American, Sarah Shourd, was also arrested but was released in September on $500,000 bail.

Ali, a well known boxing champion and U.S. Muslim, released a letter to The Associated Press on Wednesday in which he asks for the release of the two hikers. The second of two letters Ali has sent to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, he sent this one back in February when the hikers first went to trial.

"Please show the world the compassion I know you have in your heart," the 69-year-old wrote.

Ali�s wife, Lonnie Ali, told the AP that her husband was asked to intervene by the late John Arum, son of boxing promoter Bob Arum, who died in a climbing accident just before Shourd was released.

"We felt we could at least send a letter on their behalf. So that's what we did and we followed up with this letter," Lonnie Ali said, noting that they have not received a response.

She also states that she is willing to travel to Iran, but it might be more difficult for her husband who suffers from Parkinson�s Disease. He has traveled to Iran twice in the past, including one trip in which he attempted to anchor the release of prisoners during the Iran-Iraq war.

The U.S. has contested all allegations brought against the hikers, who are set to appear in court for the second time on May 11, according to the AP.