Sarah Shourd is an author, a contributing editor for the Solitary Watch web site, and a UC Berkeley Visiting Scholar currently based in Oakland, California. From 2009 to 2010, the Iranian government held Shourd a political hostage when she was captured, along with her two companions, while hiking near an unmarked border in semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. She was then held in arbitrary, incommunicado, solitary detention for 410 days. Upon her release, Shourd worked tirelessly for the release of her two companions, appearing on Oprah Winfrey's TV show, working closely with the governments of Oman, Iraq, and Venezuela, and meeting with key figures such as Hilary Clinton, President Obama, Sean Penn, Muhammad Ali, Cat Stevens, and President Ahmadinejad himself.
From 2001 to 2005, Shourd did international solidarity work with the Zapatista indigenous movement in Chiapas, Mexico. She organized with mothers from Juarez, Mexico, who lost their daughters in a spree of unsolved murders many have coined "femicide" and then spent a year living in a Palestinian refugee camp in the outskirts of Damascus, teaching for the Iraqi Student Project. Since her wrongful imprisonment, she has become an advocate for prisoners' rights—focusing her writing, speaking, and theater projects on the widespread use of prolonged solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. She has written for The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, Newsweek, and her blog on The Huffington Post. Her memoir A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran—coauthored by Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal—is slated to be published in 2014.