Shane Bauer, fiance of Sarah Shourd, is a freelance investigative photojournalist, covering humanitarian issues.
Shane wrote extensively for highly respected independent news outlets, such as Al Jazeera: 'Tensions simmer in southern Yemen'
Shane lived in Damascus, Syria. A month before being detained in Iraqi Kurdistan, Shane wrote about Syria for New American Media (NAM):
Shane comes from a rural Minnesota background. Even as a child, he was drawn to speak out for the oppressed, and Shane's mother remembers him asking for his parents' permission to stand up for the Native American children when there was a move to exclude them from his school.
Shane did a course in Peace Studies at the University of California. He enjoyed the multi-cultural scene of Bay Area and was drawn to the family-oriented approach of Middle Eastern culture. At university, he specialised in Arabic, at which he excelled. He felt a strong grasping of Arabic was essential to understanding Middle Eastern culture and helping to break down barriers between nations.
While at university, Shane made a powerful, eye-opening film about the homeless in San Francisco, 'Hotel Poverty'.
On graduating, Shane and friend Shon Meckfessel travelled to Bosnia, volunteering for a charity helping orphans of the war.
"This made a huge impact on him, to see the ravages of war. He saw children living in card-board boxes... He works for peace, not injustice".
Shane's mother, Cindy Hickey.
Next, Shane travelled to Sudan with film-maker David Martinez, where they spent a few weeks with a rebel army in Darfur, resulting in the insightful film, 'Songs of Enemies and Deserts'.
Highly respected journalists such as Sandy Close and AC Thompson had spotted Shane, and he found work reporting for 'New American Media', 'The Nation' and 'Mother Jones', rapidly gaining a reputation as being of the 'new breed of photo-journalist' - objective, free-spirited and sincere. So much so that Sandy herself says that she stretched the budget especially to commission Shane who filed many articles with New American Media in 2009. Shane's outstanding articles, films and photography can be seen on his website www.shanebauer.net.
When Shane first met Sarah Shourd, he was due to travel to Ethiopia, Yemen and Syria. They were both drawn to Middle Eastern culture, and Sarah accompanied Shane on his travels.
In Syria, Shane did the only English language interview with Hamas political deputy Moussa Abu Marzouk, 'Hamas: "We will win war in Gaza"', for Al Jazeera.
For a while, Shane was away in Fallujah, interviewing Eifan Saddun al-Isawi, head of Fallujah's Sahwa, or Awakening Council, the Sunni militia hired by the United States in early 2007 to fight its enemies in Iraq.
Back in Damascus, Shane devoted long hours to typing up his article which exposed misuse of US funds in Iraq, for a Mother Jones article, 'The Sheikh Down'.
Shane's most recent article, 'The Sheik Down', exposes how US forces used Iraq's Awakening Councils to pay millions of dollars in thinly disguised bribes to Sunni Sheikhs.
In his extensive interview with the head of Fallujah's Sahwa, or Awakening council, the Sunni Militia hired by the United States in early 2007, he writes:
"The US military has never admitted to arming militias in Iraq, or giving anything more than $350 a month to Anbari tribesmen to fight alongside Americans against Sunni resistance groups and Al Qaeda but reconstruction payments, sometimes handed out in shrink-wrapped bundles of $100 bills, have left plenty of extra for the Sheiks to help themselves..."
In 'Iraq's New Death Squad', Shane reports:
"Accounts of older ISOF operations I heard around Baghdad suggest that the Americans may have knowingly allowed violence against civilians."
Shane is a fluent Arabic speaker (with an accent compared to Lebanese). No fool, he always ensured that his assignments were risk assessed beforehand.
Shane's eagerness to understand all sides of a situation, led him to Darfur with film-maker David Martinez, where they spent 5 weeks filming the Sudan rebel army.
In the resulting movie, 'Songs to Enemies and Deserts', Shane describes the soldiers they lived with:
"There's all these aspects about hanging out with these guys - it's not like you're with war-crazed people, it's just these regular guys that sit around and play cards and go swimming when it's hot."
Investigative journalist A.C. Thompson talks about Shane Bauer
"On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day we call on the government and judicial authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release our colleague Shane Bauer and his friend Josh Fattal, an environmental educator, after more than 21 months of detention.
Shane, 28, is a talented freelance reporter and photographer whose work for a variety of news organizations has helped Americans better understand the impact of U.S. policy in the Middle East. While based in Damascus, Syria, for a year before his arrest, Shane, a fluent Arabic speaker, reported sensitively and incisively from Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Previously, he’d reported from Darfur and Ethiopia....
Shane is not being held prisoner because of his work as a journalist. But Shane was traveling in Iraq because he had previously done extensive and revelatory reporting there, exposing, for example, large-scale U.S. bribery of influential sheikhs in Iraq and human rights abuses by Iraq’s U.S.-trained Special Operations Forces.
As editors and reporters who have worked closely with Shane and admire his work, we firmly believe that his detention is unjust. We call on Iran to release Shane and Josh immediately."
Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, co-editors, Mother Jones, San Francisco, CA
Sandy Close, executive editor and director, New America Media, San Francisco, CA
Jack Epstein, foreign editor, San Francisco Chronicle
Esther Kaplan, editor, The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, New York, NY
Vlae Kershner, news director, SFGate, the website of San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, CA
Richard Kim, executive editor, The Nation, New York, NY
Tim Redmond, executive editor, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco, CA
Robert Rosenthal, executive director, Center for Investigative Reporting, Berkeley, CA
Joel Simon, executive director, Committee to Protect Journalists, New York, NY
A.C. Thompson, staff reporter, ProPublica, New York, NY