Jailed American's family 'can't afford bail'

Jailed American's family 'can't afford bail'

The family of an American woman detained in Iran for more than a year is appealing to authorities to drop a $500,000 (€388,500) for her release because they cannot afford it, her lawyer said today.

Masoud Shafiei said Swiss diplomats – who handle US affairs in Iran – are asking that the bail be dropped or lowered for 32-year-old Sarah Shourd because they are having difficulty raising the money.

“I am aware the Swiss are making this appeal,” the lawyer said. “I remain hopeful. God willing, she will be released.”

Shafiei said he had no word on Iran’s response.

Iran’s judiciary granted the bail for health reasons. Shourd’s mother says she has serious medical problems.

Shourd was detained along the Iraqi border in July 2009 with two American friends, both men. Iran indicted all three on spy-related charges on Sunday which could mean trials for the two men and proceedings in absentia for Shourd if she is freed.

The families of the three claim they were innocent hikers and if they did stray across the border into Iran, it was inadvertent.

Iran’s internal battles over the handling of the American woman flared again today. Some conservative politicians object to any plans to free Shourd.

One called it a “bonus for Koran burners” in the United States.

The political sniping has once again revealed the country’s simmering political rivalries since last year’s disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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

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