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Freed Hiker Expected Friends' Release From Iran by Thanksgiving


Sarah Shourd via video-link from Berkeley, California, during an exclusive interview with Voice of America's Persian News Network (PNN), 04 Nov 2010

Sarah Shourd via video-link from Berkeley, California, during an exclusive interview with Voice of America's Persian News Network (PNN), 04 Nov 2010

An American woman who spent more than a year in Iranian custody says she had been hoping Iran would release her two fellow hikers by Thanksgiving on Thursday.

Sarah Shourd says when she was let go by Tehran in September, she told her friends Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer that she was certain they would be home for the American holiday.

Shourd told VOA's Persian News Network in an interview this week that her companions remain in a "small, cramped cell" marking what she called a "painful holiday."

Iranian authorities arrested the three Americans last year and charged them with spying after they allegedly crossed into the country from Iraq. Shourd, Fattal and Bauer say they were hiking in Iraq and any border crossing was accidental.

Tehran says it freed Shourd on a $500,000 bail in September as a humanitarian gesture.

Earlier this month, the lawyer for the three hikers, Masoud Shafiei, said Iran had set a new trial date of February 6. Court proceedings were to have started in November. Iranian authorities have said they delayed proceedings because Shourd had not been summoned back to the country to appear in court.

Alex Fattal says the hikers' families want a humanitarian release for his brother and Bauer. Fattal says the families do not believe the case needs to go to trial.

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