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Iran halts release of U.S. hiker Shourd

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari said none will be freed until the case is resolved: report

Iran halts release of U.S. hiker Shourd

Iran has cancelled yesterday's planned release of Sarah Shourd, one of three U.S. hikers accused of spying and illegally entering the country, saying none will be freed until the case is resolved.
"Up until the time that the legal procedure regarding the case of the three accused Americans is over, none of them will be released," Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said in a statement carried by the ILNA new agency.
Any decision to free the three Americans would be taken by the judiciary, he added, repeating that this would not happen "until the investigation of their case is over."
Dolatabadi had earlier said that, because the the judicial process had not been completed in Shourd's case, her release had been "ruled out."
Several officials had previously indicated that Shourd would be freed yesterday.
State news agency IRNA reported President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's office as saying her release had been postponed.
"The freedom of the American citizen which was to happen in a ceremony has been postponed as yesterday was a holiday," it quoted an unnamed presidency source as saying.
Releasing Shourd could have eased tensions between Washington and Tehran, which have heightened in recent months over Iran's controversial nuclear program of uranium enrichment.
The 31-year-old was arrested along with fellow hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal on July 31, 2009 after straying across the border from neighbouring Iraq.
Iran has accused the three of spying and illegal entry, but they insist they entered the country by mistake after getting lost during a trek in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Reports of Shourd's expected release first emerged late on Thursday in a culture ministry text message to news networks inviting them to report on the event yesterday.
Then on Friday, foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast cast doubt on the expected release, telling English-language Press TV that "discussions are still ongoing regarding the details and the date of her release."
Shourd's release would have coincided with the end of Ramadan and the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S.
Her mother Nora told reporters last month that Shourd was being held in solitary confinement despite suffering from a pre-cancerous cervical condition, a lump in her breast and depression.
The mothers of the trio had voiced hope that news of one of them being released signalled an end to their battle for freedom.
"We have seen the news reports and are urgently seeking further information," Cindy Hickey, Nora Shourd and Laura Fattal said in a joint statement.
In May, Iran had allowed the mothers to visit, and they later reported that Shourd and Bauer had become engaged while behind bars.


Updated : 2021-03-02 12:21 GMT+08:00