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Released American Hiker 'Grateful and Humbled'

Source: VOA

Sarah Shourd, 32, of the U.S. (r) embraces her mother Nora Shourd, upon arrival at the royal airport in Muscat, Oman, 14 Sep 2010, after leaving Tehran

Iran has released one of the three American hikers detained in the country since July 2009. Before departing Tehran on Tuesday on a flight bound for Oman, Sarah Shourd offered her thanks to those who worked for her freedom. Meanwhile, U.S. officials stress that the cases of Shourd's two detained companions remain unresolved.

Before she boarded an Omani airplane to depart the country where she had been held for the past 14 months, Shourd appeared on Iran's Press TV. With a burgundy colored scarf pulled over her dark hair, Shourd looked directly into the camera.

"I want to really offer my thanks to everyone in the world, all of the governments, all of the people that have been involved, and I especially particularly want to address [Iranian] President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and all of the Iranian officials, the religious leaders, and thank them for this humanitarian gesture," said Shourd. "I am grateful and I am very humbled by this moment."

Iran cited medical reasons, and Shourd's family says she needs treatment for a breast lump and pre-cancerous cervical cells.

Swiss and Omani diplomats were working with Tehran to obtain Shourd's freedom, as the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran.

Back in Washington Tuesday afternoon, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley echoed the statements of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by welcoming Shourd's release and calling attention to those still in captivity.

U.S. Hiker Departs Iran Free on Bail
By Farnaz Fassihi, WSJ

Analysts say Iran's internal political rivalries and its standoff with the West over its nuclear program have cast a shadow over the case. Some critics, including the opposition Green Movement, have said Iran uses foreign national detainees, hikers, academics, journalists, as bargaining chips to negotiate with the West. Iranian officials have consistently denied using prisoners as political tools.

"We are very gratified that we received confirmation a few minutes ago that Sarah Shourd has departed Tehran en route to Muscat, Oman," said Crowley. "You've seen the statements by the president and secretary celebrating her release, but also recognizing that the cases of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal remain unresolved. We are grateful for the efforts of Swiss, Omani and other diplomats who have worked diligently over many months to help us reach this point."

The trio was detained more than a year ago after apparently straying across the unmarked border between northern Iraq and Iran. The U.S. has repeatedly said the three are hikers who committed no crime.

Iranian state media report Shourd was freed on $500,000 bail. As Shourd flew to meet her mother in Oman, State Department spokesman Crowley said he did not yet know specific details of the negotiations that led to Shourd's freedom.

"The United States did not pay anything for her release. As you know, the government of Iran through their judicial process had specific requirements for her release, and arrangements were made that satisfied those requirements," said Crowley.

Iran released two other high-profile detainees within the past year after they reportedly paid about $300,000 each.

In May, Clotilde Reiss, a French academic accused of spying, was released after her 10-year jail sentence was commuted to a fine. France had repeatedly rejected the charges against her. In addition, last October, Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian journalist who had been detained in the post-election crackdown, was released from an Iranian prison after posting bail.

The United States is among the nations that have strict sanctions in place against financial transactions with Iran. The State Department had said that payment of bail money would not necessarily violate sanctions or require a waiver or special exemption.

President Obama on Release of Sarah Shourd from Iranian Prison

Obama welcomes release, urges Iran to free remaining hikers

Office of the Press Secretary
September 14, 2010

Statement by the President on the Release of Sarah Shourd

I am very pleased that Sarah Shourd has been released by the Iranian government, and will soon be united with her family. All Americans join with her courageous mother and family in celebrating her long-awaited return home. We are grateful to the Swiss, the Sultanate of Oman, and other friends and allies around the world who have worked tirelessly and admirably over the past several months to bring about this joyous reunion.

While Sarah has been released, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal remain prisoners in Iran who have committed no crime.  We remain hopeful that Iran will demonstrate renewed compassion by ensuring the return of Shane, Josh and all the other missing or detained Americans in Iran.  We salute the courage and strength of the Shourd, Bauer, and Fattal families, who have endured the unimaginable absence of their loved ones.  We have gained strength from their resolve, and will continue do everything we can to secure the release of their loved ones.

Statement by Secretary Clinton on Release of Sarah Shourd

U.S. urges Iranian authorities to release Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal

Office of the Spokesman
September 14, 2010

Statement by Secretary Clinton on the Release of Sarah Shourd

I welcome Sarah Shourd's release from detention in Iran, and am pleased that she will soon be reunited with her family.  I appreciate the efforts of all those who have worked for her release, in particular the Swiss Protecting Power in Tehran, the Omani Government, and the many other world leaders who have raised this case and the cases of other detained or missing American citizens. Sarah's fiancÚ Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and other U.S. citizens remain detained or missing in Iran.  We urge Iranian authorities to extend the same consideration to them by resolving their cases without delay and allowing them to immediately return to their families.


... Payvand News - 09/15/10 ... --

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