Obama, Clinton Welcome Sarah Shourd’s Release from Iran
(Urge Iran to release other detained or missing Americans)
By Stephen Kaufman
Washington — President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton welcomed the release of American Sarah Shourd by the Iranian government and urged Iranian authorities to release other American prisoners, including Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, who were detained with Shourd in July 2009 while hiking in northern Iraq near the Iranian border.
“I am very pleased that Sarah Shourd has been released by the Iranian government, and will soon be united with her family,” President Obama said in a September 14 statement. “We are grateful to the Swiss, the Sultanate of Oman, and other friends and allies around the world who have worked tirelessly and admirably over the past several months to bring about this joyous reunion.”
The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran and has asked Switzerland to be its protecting power in the country. The United States has also asked Oman, as well as other countries, to be an interlocutor with the Iranian government on its behalf.
Obama said Shourd’s fellow hikers, Bauer and Fattal, “have committed no crime” and are still imprisoned in Iran. “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,” he said.
Secretary Clinton also expressed appreciation to the governments of Switzerland and Oman, as well as other world leaders who have worked for Shourd’s release and raised her case and the cases of other missing or detained Americans with the Iranian government.
“We urge Iranian authorities to extend the same consideration to them by resolving their cases without delay and allowing them to immediately return to their families,” she said in a September 14 statement.
The trio was detained along the Iran-Iraq border on July 31, 2009, and accused of illegally crossing into Iran, as well as committing espionage. Those charges have been repeatedly denied by their families, as well as U.S. officials, who have said the three hikers had mistakenly wandered close to or across the border.
“I want to be perfectly clear: Sarah, Shane and Josh have never worked for the United States government,” President Obama said in a July 30 statement. “They are simply open-minded and adventurous young people who represent the best of America and of the human spirit. They are teachers, artists, and advocates for social and environmental justice. They have never had any quarrel with the government of Iran, and have great respect for the Iranian people.”
Shourd, 32, had been working in Syria to provide educational opportunities and teach English to Iraqi refugees at the time of her detention.
P.J. Crowley, the State Department’s assistant secretary for public affairs, said September 14 that Shourd’s release “demonstrates that Iranian authorities have the ability to resolve these cases if they choose.”
Noting that the facts behind Shourd’s, Bauer’s and Fattal’s cases “are identical,” Crowley said the Obama administration hopes that Iranian leaders “will make the same decision regarding Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer as soon as possible.”
Crowley said the United States did not pay any money to Iran for Shourd’s release and said he is unaware as to what actions were taken that caused Iran to set her free.
“The government of Iran ... through their judicial process had … specific requirements for her release, and arrangements were made that satisfied those requirements,” he said, citing efforts by Switzerland, Oman and other countries that had been working for Shourd’s release.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)