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Iran Cancels Release of US Hiker


Iran has abruptly canceled plans to release one of the American hikers detained for more than a year in Tehran after judicial officials cited unresolved legal issues.

The status of Sarah Shourd remained in doubt Saturday following reports from Iran's ILNA news agency, quoting chief prosecutor Jafari Dolatabadi, that said judicial procedures in her case have not been finished.

The IRNA state news agency said the postponement was also confirmed by a spokesman in the office of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said details would be announced later.

Shourd and two other Americans, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, were taken into custody on July 31, 2009, and subsequently accused of spying and illegal entry. The three insist they walked into Iranian territory by accident and are not involved in espionage.

The postponement may come as an embarrassment to Mr. Ahmadinejad, who had reportedly intervened to free Shourd as an act of clemency to coincide with the holiday Eid-al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Some Western journalists based in Iran said they had been invited to attend a ceremony on Saturday at a former imperial palace in the capital before news of the cancelation broke.

U.S. officials have said they did not receive any communication confirming that Shourd would be released. Relatives of the three detainees have urged Iran to release them all together.

Shourd's mother, Nora Shourd, said last month that her daughter had been denied medical treatment for a pre-cancerous cervical condition and a lump in her breast.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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