Sean Penn Asked Hugo Chavez to Help Free the U.S. Hikers from Iran

sean_penn_ink_225.jpgU.S. hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer had been imprisoned in Iran for two years when a joint effort between the U.N., Iraq, Oman freed them last week. Now, new details reveal the involvement of Venezuela's president (and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ally) Hugo Chavez in the process, and the "American intellectual" who helped bring Chavez onboard: Sean Penn.

The Oscar winner-slash-humanitarian reportedly met with Chavez months ago in Venezuela to ask for his help urging Iran to release the hikers:

Venezuela's deputy foreign minister told Reuters on Thursday 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," the source told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Penn's been back at work in front of the camera this month shooting Gangster Squad. Stars -- they're just like us! Except for when they take time off from their day jobs to solve international political crises.

[CNN, Reuters]