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Foreign ministry welcomes hiker's release

The Swiss foreign ministry has welcomed the release of an American hiker who had spent more than a year in an Iranian prison on spy charges.

This content was published on September 15, 2010 - 08:10
Tim Neville, swissinfo and agencies

“We thank all parties involved and we will continue our efforts on behalf of the two Americans who remain in detention,” Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said in a statement.

Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were arrested 14 months ago for allegedly straying into Iran across an unmarked border with Iraq. The hikers have said they are innocent.

Calmy-Rey added that Swiss authorities had “regularly intervened” with Iranian officials to secure their freedom. Shourd was the only one of the three hikers released.

Earlier on Tuesday, Shourd, 32, was allowed to leave Tehran’s Evin Prison and was handed over to the Swiss embassy which represents Washington’s interests in Iran. Iranian judiciary officials had demanded – and received – a bond of $500,000 (SFr501,000).

Iranian authorities said they had released her on humanitarian grounds as Shourd needs medical attention. She was then flown by private jet to Oman, where her mother was waiting for her.

"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... They deserve to come home, too," said a statement by the three families.

In a statement to Iran's state-run Press TV before boarding the flight to Oman, Shourd thanked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders for "this humanitarian gesture".

"I want to really offer my thanks to everyone in the world, all of the governments, all of the people, that have been involved," added Shourd.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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