Iran 'releases American woman'

Iran 'releases American woman'

American Sarah Shourd has been released after more than a year in prison in Iran, television reports in the country claimed today.

“Iran has released US national Sarah Shourd,” flashed a banner on Press TV.

Ms Shourd, 32, and two other Americans were apprehended by Iranian security forces near the border with northern Iraq on July 2009. They have been accused of spying.

Iran’s judiciary granted $500,000 (€600,000) bail for Ms Shourd on Sunday for health reasons, though her family had said they could not afford it and the US said it would not pay it.

Ms Shourd’s mother said her daughter has been denied treatment for serious health problems, including a breast lump and precancerous cervical cells.

Iran accused Ms Shourd and the two American men she was detained of spy-related charges on Sunday, which could mean trials for the two men and proceedings in absentia for Ms Shourd.

The detainees’ families say they were hiking in Iraq’s scenic north when they were detained, and if they crossed the border into Iran they did so unwittingly.

Moves to release Ms Shourd have been accompanied by political jockeying in Iran as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s conservative rivals criticised his attempts to release her on humanitarian grounds after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Ahmadinejad, who first tried to shepherd the release of Ms Shourd last week, was rebuked by the courts, which insisted that any release had to be on their terms.

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