By Alyson Sheppard
After 410 days in jail, Sarah Shourd—one of three American hikers imprisoned in Tehran on espionage charges—was released this morning on $500,000 bail. According to her lawyer, she was on her way to the Swiss Embassy for protection, but where she will go from there is still unclear. Her family has requested she be allowed to return home to the United States because Shourd has medical problems including precancerous cervical cells and lumps in her breast. She was not receiving medical treatment while in prison.
Last week, Iranian officials announced Shourd would be released to mark the end of Ramadan, but the judiciary called it off. It is uncertain why this decision was reversed and her release granted. The judiciary said the other two American hikers, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, would need to stay in jail for at least two more months for their “pretrial detention.”
Shourd, 31, Bauer, 28, and Fattal, 28, were arrested on July 31, 2009 after supposedly crossing the Iranian border during a recreational trek in the Kurdistan mountains of Iraq. They have been held in mostly solitary confinement at Evin Prison since then, reportedly having no access to a lawyer or doctor and little contact with the outside world. In May, their parents were allowed visitation. This summer, Amnesty International, President Barack Obama, and others demanded the hikers’ immediate release because they have yet to face a criminal trial.
Read the New York Times story here.