Iran to release American

One of three Americans jailed for more than a year will be released on Saturday, Iran said today.

Reporters were told by text message to come to the same hotel where the Americans' parents were allowed to meet them recently to witness the release.

"Offering congratulations on Eid al-Fitr," the message said referring to the holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. "The release of one of the detained Americans will be at Saturday, 9 am at the Estaghlal hotel."

It is common in the Islamic world to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday by showing clemency and releasing prisoners.

Ali Reza Shiravi, the head of the foreign media office at the ministry confirmed that he had sent the message.

The hotel near Evin prison in Tehran is where the three Americans' mothers were allowed to visit them in May.

The detained Americans - Sarah Shourd, 31; her boyfriend, Shane Bauer, 27; and their friend Josh Fattal, 27 - have been held in Iran since July 2009, when they were arrested along the Iraqi border.

Iran has accused them of espionage; their families say that the three were hiking in Iraq's largely peaceful mountainous northern Kurdish region and that if they crossed the border, it was accidental.

Their detention has become entangled in the confrontation between the United States and Iran.

Iranian leaders have repeatedly suggested a link between their jailing and that of a number of Iranians by the US whose release Tehran demands.

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