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Iran Releases U.S. Woman From Jail

Source: RFE/RL

Iran is reported to have freed one of three Americans whom Tehran has accused of spying and held in prison for more than a year.

Shane Bauer (left), Sarah Shourd (center), and Josh Fattal in Tehran in May 2010 when they were allowed access to their mothers

"Iran has released the U.S. national Sarah Shourd," state-controlled English-language Press TV announced. "Her other two fellow Americans, however, still are in detention. The three were arrested back in July."

Shourd, 32 and said to be suffering from health problems, has reportedly been released on bail.

Sarah Shourd

News agencies, quoting the judiciary, reported that bank documents had been submitted to secure Shourd's release and that she was handed over to officials of the Swiss Embassy in Iran, which represents U.S. interests in the country.

The embassy has not yet confirmed the handover.

But Shourd's lawyer, Masud Shafii, confirmed to Reuters news agency that his client has been released from custody in Tehran's Evin prison.

Shourd and two other Americans, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, were detained near the border with Iraq in July 2009. They were charged with espionage and illegal entry.

The trio rejects the charges, saying they entered Iran by mistake after getting lost during a trek in Iraqi Kurdistan. Washington also denies the allegations.

Shourd's reported release comes two days after Iranian media quoted Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying Shourd would be released on bail of $500,000.

Her family said they could not afford the bail and the United States said it would not pay it.

Dolatabadi told reporters that Shourd's bail was granted on health grounds and that the conditions of the bail did not prohibit her from leaving Iran.

According to Shourd's mother, Nora, who visited her in May, her daughter suffers from severe health problems, including a pre-cancerous cervical condition, a lump in her breast, and depression.

It was expected that Shourd would be released on September 11 as an act of clemency to mark Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

But the Tehran prosecutor said the decision over her release was delayed over legal technicalities.

Dolatabadi pointed out that despite Shourd's release her case would still go to trial along with those of the two other Americans still in custody.

compiled from agency reports

Copyright (c) 2010 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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