Saturday 17 March 2018

Iran to release jailed US woman on health grounds

Dale Chesney in Washington

A SENIOR Iranian prosecutor said yesterday that authorities will release a jailed American woman on $500,000 (€393,625) bail because of health problems, another sudden about-face by Iran in a case that has added to tension with the United States.

The news came during a weekend of start-and-stop announcements about the release of Sarah Shourd, who was detained with two friends, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, along the Iran-Iraq border on July 31, 2009, and accused of spying.

The woman's Iranian lawyer met with the three Americans in Tehran's Evin prison yesterday and said that he is hopeful Ms Shourd will be released in the next two or three days.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said the conditions of her bail do not bar her from leaving the country, though her case will still go to trial along with those of the other two Americans, who must remain in custody.

"Based on reports and the approval of the relevant judge about the sickness of Ms Shourd, her detention was converted to $500,000 bail, and if the bail is deposited, she can be released," the official IRNA news agency quoted Mr Dowlatabadi as saying.

Ms Shourd's mother said she has been denied treatment for serious health problems, including a breast lump and pre-cancerous cervical cells.

Her mother in Oakland, California, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Americans' lawyer, Masoud Shafiei, met with them in the prosecutor's office at the prison and said he provided a final letter of defence in their case. He said it was the first meeting he was allowed with them since he was hired by their families to represent them. "All of the three were fine and I was with them for about three hours," Mr Shafiei said.

Irish Independent

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