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Sep 14, 2010 9:46 AM

American Freed in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran released an American woman on a bail of
$500,000 Tuesday more than a year after she was detained, but
authorities said they were not considering the immediate release of
two companions arrested with her.
The announcement came days after conflicting statements by
Iranian authorities on whether Sarah Shourd would be freed as the
process was complicated by political feuds among the leadership and
questions over how a payment could be made for her freedom without
violating international sanctions.
The English-language Press TV reported that Shourd, 32, had been
released "on a bail of $500,000" but did not specify whether the
money had been paid or give more details. Her family had said it
was having difficulty raising the money.
Iran's judiciary issued a statement saying the "pretrial
detention" of the two American men - Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal -
has been extended for two more months.
Tehran's chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said later
that the bail had been paid to an Iranian bank in Muscat, Oman.
"The judge issued the release order and Ms. Shourd was simply
set free and she can leave Iran if she wants to," he told 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."
Shourd's lawyer, Masoud Shafiei, said she had been released but
was still undergoing formalities inside the Evin Prison, where she
has been held in solitary confinement. He said he had no
information about her departure route or any details about bail.
A spokesman for the Swiss Foreign Ministry, Lars Knuchel said
the release had not been formally confirmed but "we are very
confident that things are moving into the right direction."
The U.S. broke off ties with Iran after the 1979 Islamic
Revolution, and Switzerland handles U.S. interests in Iran.
Shourd and her two friends 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 humbled the president by saying it was in charge of the
case and would set the rules - 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."
Shourd's mother says she has serious medical problems, including
a breast lump and precancerous cervical cells.
Moves to release Shourd have been accompanied by political
jockeying in Iran between Ahmadinejad and his more conservative
rivals.
Nora Shourd's phone message box was full when the AP tried
reaching her for comment. A New York publicist working with the
families, Samantha Topping, did not immediately return a phone call
seeking comment. A message on the cell phone of Cindy Hickey,
mother of Shane Bauer, referred calls to Topping.
---
Associated Press Writer Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee contributed
to this report

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