Two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn took an active role in trying to free the American hikers that were recently released by Iran after years of state wrangling over the fate of the men.
Penn pulled some strings with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in the months leading up to release of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, asking the leader to approach his buddy Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and implore Iran to free the hikers. The Hollywood Reporter cites Reuters as confirming Penn had what appears to be a pretty big hand in securing the freedom of Fattal and Bauer:
Venezuela’s deputy foreign minister told Reuters that Chavez brought up the case with his Iranian ally Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after being alerted to the Americans’ plight by friends in U.S. “intellectual circles.”
“The American ‘intellectual’ who took up the case with him was Sean Penn,” a source told Reuters. “Penn was very committed to the case. … He flew to Caracas several months ago to raise it with Chavez and he kept on it.”
Penn is known for political and social activism, having traveled to both New Orleans and Haiti after natural disasters swept through the regions and left devastation in their wake. The actor was also an outspoken critic of former President George W. Bush during his administration.
A rep for the Oscar winner did confirm that Penn was active in trying to get the men released, but refused to provide further detail:
“Yes, he was involved in working towards their release. He is not, however, providing detail or offering a statement.”