17 Sep 2010

US presses for release of other hikers

12:01 pm on 17 September 2010

The United States State Department is pressing Iran to release two remaining hikers after the release of their friend Sarah Shourd from an Iranian prison.

Sarah Shourd has been reunited in Oman with her family after being held in Iran for more than a year on spying charges.

Miss Shourd, 32, has urged Iran to free her fiance Shane Bauer, 28, and friend Josh Fattal, 28.

The BBC reports all three were arrested near the Iran-Iraq border last year and accused of spying. The two men still face trial.

Chief prosecutor Jafari Dolatabadi was quoted as saying that the two men's detention has been extended by two months. Press TV quoted him as saying that therefore there was no talk of releasing them.

The three deny spying, saying they accidentally strayed into Iranian territory while on a hike in Iraq when they were arrested on 31 July, 2009.

'Huge debt' to repay

Before she left Iran, Ms Shourd, 32, described her release as a huge relief, saying she had a huge debt to repay the world for what it had done for her.

She said her first priority is to help her fiance and her friend Fattal to gain their freedom.

The Iranian authorities said a bail of $500,000 had been posted, but it is unclear who paid.