Freed U.S. hiker arrives in N.Y. to plead for friends' release
Back home after a 14-month prison ordeal in Iran, American hiker Sarah Shourd denied yesterday that she is a spy and said she will only be “one-third free” so long as her fiance and their friend stay locked up in Tehran.
“We committed no crime. We are not spies,” she said at a Manhattan news conference, calling their arrest a “huge misunderstanding.” Iranian police in July 2009 detained the trio on espionage charges after they allegedly crossed the border from Iraq into Iran.
Her pleas on behalf of her fiancé, Shane Bauer, and friend, Josh Fattal, both 28, came as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad settled in New York for the U.N. General Assembly this week.
Iran’s provocative president said yesterday on ABC’s “This Week” that the U.S. government should return the favor by releasing eight Iranians “illegally arrested” in the United States. Still, “at the end of the day there’s a law that determines who stays in prison and who does not,” Ahmadinejad said.
Shourd, 32, who was living in Syria with Bauer before their arrest, thanked Ahmadinejad and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for her “compassionate release from detention.” She was let go for medical reasons, but not before Iran demanded a $500,000 bail. Bauer and Fattal still await trial.
The mothers of the imprisoned hikers, who say they were in Iraq visiting popular tourist sites, said at the news conference that they requested a meeting with Ahmadinejad, but had not received a response.