Washington, D.C., September 28, 2010 - An American hiker who spent more than a year in Iranian prison with her two friends has told VOA that the three were the victims of "bad circumstances" and she hopes Iranian judicial officials will have "compassion" for her friends who are still being held. <!-- IMAGE -->
Sarah Shourd, who was released earlier this month on $500,000 bail, told VOA's Persian News Network that there was, "no fence, no sign, no flag of any kind" to indicate a border where the three were hiking in northern Iraq. She says if they strayed into Iran it was "accidental."
Speaking from New York in her first interview with a Persian language broadcaster, Shourd said she told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a meeting on Friday, that "we are not enemies to Iran, we are peace activists."
Iranian authorities, who detained the three hikers in July of 2009, have accused Shourd, her fiancé Shane Bauer and their friend Joshua Fattal of espionage.
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Shourd said she did not have any information about the Omani delegation that is now in Iran, but she thanked the Omani government and Sultan Qaboos for the role they played in securing her release earlier this month. "I can only hope that His Majesty Sultan Qaboos will continue his efforts for my fiancé Shane Bauer and my friend Josh Fattal," Shourd said. <!-- IMAGE -->
Despite the ordeal, Shourd said there are many people in America that would wish for relations to improve with Iran, and she said, "Shane and Josh and I are among those people."
VOA's Persian News Network, which has a weekly audience in Iran estimated at nearly 20 million, has provided extensive coverage of the hikers since they were detained last year. For the latest news from Iran, visit the PNN website at www.voanews.com/persian/news.
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