Iran frees American woman on $500k bail

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An American woman released by Iran on Tuesday after more than a year in prison flew out of the country to the nearby Gulf nation of Oman to be reunited with her mother after a $500,000 bail was paid to win her freedom.

However, the case that has deepened strains between the U.S. and Iran was still far from resolved. Iranian authorities said they are not considering the immediate release of the two Americans arrested with 32-year-old Sarah Shourd. Iran has charged all three with spying, though their families say they were innocent hikers arrested in a scenic mountain area along Iran’s border with Iraq.

The families of the three said they are relieved over Shourd’s release, but heartbroken her two friends remain in custody. They applauded Iranian authorities for showing compassion for Shourd and called on the government to immediately release her companions, saying Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal “deserve to come home too.”

Shourd’s mother Nora said she has prayed for her daughter’s release for 410 days and can’t wait to “wrap Sarah in my arms and hold her close.” Nora Shourd says she will ensure her daughter the space she needs to recover from her ordeal.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Shourd was being released on compassionate grounds because of health reasons. Her mother says she has serious medical problems, including a breast lump and precancerous cervical cells.

A U.S. official said Shourd’s flight took off from Iran en route to Oman, about a two-hour flight. Her mother was awaiting her arrival in Oman.

Tehran’s chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said a $500,000 bail had been paid to Iran’s Bank Melli in Muscat, Oman but it was not immediately clear who paid it. A U.S. official said neither the U.S. government nor the families of the hikers had paid the bail, but could not say who else might have paid it.

Both U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The release followed days of conflicting statements by Iranian authorities on whether she would be let go. The decision got mired in internal political feuds among Iran’s leadership and questions over whether the family could raise the bail money and if it did, would the payment violate sanctions against Iran.

Shortly after Iranian state media announced Shourd’s release, the country’s hardline judiciary said the “pretrial detention” of Bauer and Fattal had been extended for two more months. Shourd and Bauer are engaged to be married.

“The judge issued the release order and Ms. Shourd was simply set free and she can leave Iran if she wants to,” he told state-run English-language Press TV. He said the cases of the two American men, both 28, will be sent to the revolutionary court and “there is no talk of releasing those two right now.”

Iran indicted the three Americans on spy-related charges on Sunday and the prosecutor’s statement suggested the men would face trials while proceedings against Shourd could be held in absentia.

The U.S. broke off ties with Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and Switzerland handles U.S. interests in Iran.

Shourd, who grew up in Los Angeles, Bauer, who grew up in Onamia, Minn., and Fattal, who grew up in Elkins Park, Pa., were detained along the Iran-Iraq border on July 31, 2009 and accused of illegally crossing the border and spying in a case that has deepened tensions with Washington. Their families say they were hiking in Iraq’s scenic north, and that if they crossed the border, they did so unwittingly.

The stage was set for Shourd’s release last week when Ahmadinejad said he intervened as a gesture of Islamic compassion at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. However, the judiciary quickly upstaged the president by saying it was in charge of the case and would set the rules โ€” in the form of the largest known bail for any high-profile Westerner jailed in the past year.

Shortly after judicial officials announced the bail on Sunday, Shourd’s lawyer predicted she could walk free in “two or three days.”

Moves to release Shourd have been accompanied by political jockeying in Iran between Ahmadinejad and his more conservative rivals.

On Monday, Shourd’s family asked the Iranians to drop or lower the demanded sum because they were having difficulty raising the money.

U.S. sanctions put blanket restrictions on transactions with Iran’s main state bank, Bank Melli, which has also been the channel for past bail payments to Iranian courts by foreign detainees. Washington accuses the bank of helping fund Iran’s ballistic missile development and its nuclear program, which the U.S. says could eventually lead to atomic weapons. Iran says it only seeks peaceful nuclear reactors for energy.

U.N. sanctions also call on governments to block transactions with Melli and another major Iranian financial institution, Bank Saderat, if there are “reasonable grounds” they could contribute to Iran’s nuclear activities. AP

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14 responses to “Iran frees American woman on $500k bail”

  1. $500.000 bail, the iranian know how to play with the innocents and their emotion. First they said they are going to release her and a minute later NOT, but money buys everything in iran.

    Did you know that in iran the clerics are your pimps: For a fee you can go ahead and get a permit to get laid with a woman under what they call the “desire contract”. Iran is the a country where fornication is sanctioned by the clerics for profit and they praise allah, go figure.

    1. Tarie Al Fanarie Avatar
      Tarie Al Fanarie

      Ali this person along with her two friends are innocent of any charges. Iran using it to get concessions from the US. THis women have been sick for a long time and was denied treatment. I cannot believe that they did this to their poor souls. But of course we can believe they’re capable of after seeing the way they treated their own people when they were protesting the votes. We saw Nada picture bleeding to death when the iranians guards denied her any emergency medical treatment. And hezbollah wants us to believe in these people? they have the picture of the Lucifer khameini in every Den in dahia and the south. They wants to believe they’re resistance fighters and fighting for Lebanon. God saves us from Hezbollah and their kind..

    2. 500,000 iran you are a god dam thief this is riduculous this people they were civilian just got lost on the rd they did not harm no one

      do you think the us is that stupid to spy on you sendindg tree people walking in the desert with the technology and the satellites the us have it will never do it this way those american just civilian and innocent you need to release them now with no bond and no demands

    3. 500,000 iran you are a god dam thief this is riduculous this people they were civilian just got lost on the rd they did not harm no one

      do you think the us is that stupid to spy on you sendindg tree people walking in the desert with the technology and the satellites the us have it will never do it this way those american just civilian and innocent you need to release them now with no bond and no demands

  2. Honestly…how many hikers go to the Iraqi/Irani border..FFS if you’re that dumb you should stay in jail. What a waste!!! 500k and a private jet ride on behalf of the tax payer for sheer stupidity.

    1. people have different hobbies americans they travel on vacation all over the world and people from all over the world come to america for vacationas the matter in fact there are 1/2 million irinian live in the us they work and have buissiness and they go to school and some on vacation so the us should put all of them in jail because it happend that those peaceful iranian came over to the us or drove by the border it dos,nt make sense

      you guys are stupid and if you are saying she should be in jail because she is dumm in that regard you all should be in jail because you are the biggest dummies

    2. people have different hobbies americans they travel on vacation all over the world and people from all over the world come to america for vacationas the matter in fact there are 1/2 million irinian live in the us they work and have buissiness and they go to school and some on vacation so the us should put all of them in jail because it happend that those peaceful iranian came over to the us or drove by the border it dos,nt make sense

      you guys are stupid and if you are saying she should be in jail because she is dumm in that regard you all should be in jail because you are the biggest dummies

  3. Honestly…how many hikers go to the Iraqi/Irani border..FFS if you’re that dumb you should stay in jail. What a waste!!! 500k and a private jet ride on behalf of the tax payer for sheer stupidity.

  4. moustapha Avatar

    LEBSTER you make a really valid point. Seriously what the HELL was she and the two other Americans doing Hiking on the BORDERS of Iran and Iraq.

    Who in their right mind would travel to the other side of the world to athletically tread the dunes of two countries that hold the entire regions decision of war and Peace? Are they not hearing about the HUNDREDS that get killed by suicide bombers? Do they not hear about constant so-called casualties of war due to mistakes? Are they not afraid of all the militias that are running around killing and blackmailing left and right their own people, so what would they do if they see a foreigner? Are they not hearing the threats between these countries and their own?

    Ghareeeb!

    1. Thanks Abou Steif. I like how you elaborated on what I said. I just want the people who gave me a negative rating to take a hike on the Iraqi border if they don’t like my comments ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. Thanks Abou Steif. I like how you elaborated on what I said. I just want the people who gave me a negative rating to take a hike on the Iraqi border if they don’t like my comments ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. moustapha Avatar

    LEBSTER you make a really valid point. Seriously what the HELL was she and the two other Americans doing Hiking on the BORDERS of Iran and Iraq.

    Who in their right mind would travel to the other side of the world to athletically tread the dunes of two countries that hold the entire regions decision of war and Peace? Are they not hearing about the HUNDREDS that get killed by suicide bombers? Do they not hear about constant so-called casualties of war due to mistakes? Are they not afraid of all the militias that are running around killing and blackmailing left and right their own people, so what would they do if they see a foreigner? Are they not hearing the threats between these countries and their own?

    Ghareeeb!

  6. 500k for bail ? as if !! shes not going back to court.

  7. 500k for bail ? as if !! shes not going back to court.

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