Shourd departs Iran; Families demand release of other two jailed hikers

WASHINGTON — One of the three hikers who had been detained in Iran for 410 days, Sarah Shourd, is now on a plane that has left Tehran. The other two hikers, Minnesota native Shane Bauer (Shourd’s fiancé) and their friend Josh Fattal, remain imprisoned and have been accused of spying.

“I want to really offer my thanks to everyone in the world, all of the governments, all of the people that have been involved,” Shourd told a reporter after her release. “And I especially, particularly want to address President Ahmadinejad, and all of the Iranian officials, and the religious leaders, and thank them for this humanitarian gesture. I’m grateful, and I’m very humbled by this moment.”

While everyone from her family to President Obama praised the decision to release her, they called in unison for Bauer and Fattal to follow on the next flight out.

“All of our families are relieved and overjoyed that Sarah has at last been released but we’re also heartbroken that Shane and Josh are still being denied their freedom for no just cause,” family members of the trio said in a joint statement. “We applaud the Iranian authorities for showing compassion in Sarah’s case and again call on them to do the only right thing and release Shane and Josh immediately.”

Bauer, Shourd and Fattal had been imprisoned for more than a year since they were arrested during a hike that began in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, near the Iranian border. Iran claims the three were spies, however the hikers’ relatives and U.S. officials say that if they crossed the border at all, it was inadvertent.

U.S. officials have maintained at the highest levels that the trio are innocent — and certainly weren’t spies.

“While Sarah has been released, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal remain prisoners in Iran who have committed no crime,” Obama said. “We remain hopeful that Iran will demonstrate renewed compassion by ensuring the return of Shane, Josh and all the other missing or detained Americans in Iran.”

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