The Curious Case of Mr. Meckfessel

In a few quick web searches on the misadventure of the four American hikers on the Iraq-Iran border, I found a few noteworthy bits of information.

An online report from a Seattle news outlet that was posted on 8/2/09 names the three hikers who are being detained in Iran and the one who was not taken into custody.  In this story, the fourth hiker was reported to be a PhD student from the University of Washington named Shon Meckfessel.

But in an 8/1/09 New York Times story by Sam Dagher, the fourth hiker was identified as Shaun Gabriel.

“The fourth hiker, identified as Shaun Gabriel of California, was handed over to American Embassy officials in Baghdad, the Kurdish official said.”

(Note: In subsequent NYT posts, he is identified as Shon Gabriel Meckfessel)

I also discovered that some other news sites have published a first-hand

account of the incident written by Shon Meckfessal, who is emerging as a rather curious actor in this saga.

In addition to being identified as Shaun Gabriel in the NYT, it turns out that Meckfessel is the author of Suffled How it Gush: A North American Anarchist in the Balkans, which was published July 1, 2009, by AK Press and is available on, along with a bio on the author that reads:

About the Author
“Shon lives between Portland, OR and Zagreb, Croatia working as a web designer and teacher of English. He is a contributor to Confronting Capitalism (Soft Skull, 2004). Shon has spent many years in the Balkans and decided to write this book due to the extreme confusion and misunderstanding his friends back home harbor about the region.”

I suppose Mr. Meckfessel’s next book will be, “A North American Anarchist Almost Lost on the Iraq-Iran Border.” But first he’ll have to find out what happened to his Facebook page, which is no longer available.

3 responses to “The Curious Case of Mr. Meckfessel

  1. Thanks for the updates and information. The story is certainly worth doubting. Seems like almost all stories require additional research and perspectives of late.

  2. I doubt that he was trying for publicity. According to his story, he wasn’t feeling well that day and didn’t go hiking with his friends. But, there are conflicting reports about that. If he was looking for adventure, I think he found it.

  3. It’s a helluva way to publicize a book! I guess I wonder if his notoriety in the Balkans and as an anarchist and critic of the U.S. (and visibility as a published writer?) immunized him from the same treatment as the other three…

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