September 14, 2010 by staff
Shourd Sarah was speaking shortly before Tuesday on board a flight out of the country to the neighboring country of the Gulf of Oman, where he met his mother after a bail of 500,000 and was paid to gain their freedom.
In brief remarks to English-language Iranian state television station, Shourd said he was “grateful” and “very honored by this time.” Iranian Press TV also broadcast images of his boarding a jet waving from the window of the airplane before takeoff.
Iran accuses U.S. Shourd and two others arrested with her along the border with Iraq in July 2009 of spying. The other two remain in custody.
It is an update to the latest news. Check back soon for more information. AP’s earlier story is below.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – A U.S. woman freed by Iran on Tuesday after more than a year in prison out of the country flew to the nearby Gulf nation of Oman to meet with his mother after a bail of 500,000 and was paid for gain their freedom.
However, the case has deepened tensions between the U.S. and Iran is still far from resolved. The Iranian authorities said they are considering the immediate release of two Americans detained with 32 years of age, Sarah Shourd. Iran has accused the three with espionage, but their families say they were innocent hikers held in a scenic mountain area along the Iranian border with Iraq.
Shourd families, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal received the news with mixed feelings.
“All our families are relieved and pleased that Sarah has finally been released, but also heartbroken Shane and Josh are still denied their freedom without just cause,” they said in a statement.
Shourd mother, Nora said she has hoped and prayed for this time of 410 days.
“I can not wait to wrap Sara in my arms and hugged when we are finally together again. Sarah has had a long and difficult custody and I will make sure that you now get the care you need and the time and space to recover, “he said. “I can only imagine the bittersweet of liberty must be for her, leaving behind Shane and Josh.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he was Shourd being released for humanitarian reasons, for health reasons. His mother says he has serious medical problems, including a lump in the breast and cervical precancerous cells.
“We applaud the Iranian authorities to show compassion in the case of Sarah and again called on to do the right thing and release Shane and Josh immediately,” said the statement of families. “They deserve to get home. Iran has no reason to deprive them of their liberty for a moment.”
A U.S. official said the flight took off Shourd of Iran on the way to Oman on a flight two hours. His mother was awaiting his arrival in Oman.
Tehran’s chief prosecutor said Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi 500,000 bail was paid to Bank Melli Iran in Muscat, Oman, but it was unclear who paid for it. A U.S. official said neither the U.S. government or the families of the hikers had paid the bail, but could not say who else might have paid.
Both U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The release came after days of conflicting statements about whether the Iranian authorities would be let go. The decision is mired in internal disputes between the political leaders of Iran and questions about whether the family could raise the bail money and if it did, the payment would violate sanctions against Iran.
Shortly after Iranian state media announced the release of Shourd, the country’s judiciary said the arrest hard-line “defensive” in Bauer and Fattal had been extended by two months. Shourd and Bauer are engaged to be married.
“The judge issued the release order and Ms. Shourd was set free and she can just leave Iran if she wants,” he told state-run English-language Press TV. He said the cases of two American men, both 28, will be sent to the revolutionary court and “not talking about freedom for the two right now.”
Iran accused the three Americans with espionage-related charges on Sunday and the prosecutor’s statement suggests that men would face trials, while proceedings against Shourd could be held in absentia.
U.S. broke relations with Iran after the Islamic revolution of 1979, and Switzerland handles U.S. interests in Iran.
Shourd, who grew up in Los Angeles, Bauer, who grew up in Onamia, Minnesota, and Fattal, who grew up in Elkins Park, Pa., were arrested at the border between Iran and Iraq on July 31, 2009 and charged with illegally crossing the border and espionage in a case that has deepened tensions with Washington. Their families say they were hiking in the scenic northern Iraq, and that if they crossed the border, they did not realize it.
The stage was set for release Shourd last week when Ahmadinejad said he intervened as a gesture of compassion at the end of Islamic holy month of Ramadan. However, the judiciary quickly overshadowed the president saying he was in charge of the case and set the rules – in the form of the largest known on bail for any high-profile Western jailed in the past year.
Shortly after court officials announced the bail on Sunday, Shourd lawyer predicted that she could walk free in “two or three days.”
Moves to the release Shourd have been accompanied by political maneuvering in Iran between Ahmadinejad and his more conservative rivals.
On Monday, the family Shourd asked the Iranians to abandon or reduce the amount required because they were having difficulty raising money.
U.S. sanctions put blanket restrictions on transactions with Iran’s main state banks, Bank Melli, which has also been the channel for bail payments to court last Iranian foreign detainees. Washington accused the bank of helping the development of ballistic missiles Iran and fund its nuclear program, the U.S. said that could lead to nuclear weapons. Iran says it seeks only peace nuclear reactors to produce energy.
UN sanctions also call on governments to block transactions with Melli and another leading financial institution in Iran, Bank Saderat, if there are “reasonable grounds” that could contribute to Iran’s nuclear activities.
Associated Press Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee, Matthew Lee in Washington, DC and Amy Forliti in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
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