Iran Says to Release US Hiker

A day after failing to fulfill a government-initiated release ceremony for a detained US hiker, Iran’s prosecutor announced on Sunday that the government would immediately allow one of its three American captives to return home as long as a bail is paid for her release.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolotabadi said Sarah Shourd, who is being detained on suspicion of being a spy and for entering Iran illegally, could go home as soon as the $500,000 bail bond set by the court is paid. Shourd is one of three American hikers being held since July 2009 on suspicion that they are working as spies for the US government.

Shourd, who is reportedly seriously ill, was supposed to have been released on Saturday as part of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s gesture of goodwill during the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. However, an apparent clash between the administration and the judiciary stymied the release. Shourd’s attorney in Iran, Masoud Shafii, said the American could be released in a couple of days. “She could be freed within two or three days. I am now waiting for the embassy to confirm the bail money is ready,” Shafii said.

The bail would likely be paid through the Swiss Embassy as the US has no diplomatic post in Iran. Another problem could be the source of the bail money, as US laws prohibit financial transactions from the United States to Iran as part of sanctions against the Islamic state.