ILNA, the news agency that reported the delay, is the news outlet most critical of Ahmedinejad, and his political opponents didn't seem to like the president's apparent attempt to turn Shourd's release into a public relations boost for himself before next week's U.N. General Assembly.
"Sarah has become victim of political bickering in the country. This shows how deep rifts within conservative establishment," Hadi Ghaemi of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran told ABC News.
The reversal came one day after an official in Iran's ministry of culture announced Thursday in a text message that one of the hikers would be released Saturday on the final day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
ABC News later confirmed that Shourd, who has been suffering from a serious gynecological condition and had discovered a possibly cancerous lump in her breast, was the one to be released. Saturday is also the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
When news of the release broke on Thursday, the hikers' mothers were cautiously jubilant and released a statement on Facebook.
"We have seen the news reports and are urgently seeking further information," the statement said. "We hope and pray that the reports are true and that this signals the end of all three of our children's long and difficult detention. Shane, Sarah and Josh are all innocent and we continue to call for their immediate release, so that they can return home together and be reunited with our families."
Just minutes later, the administrator of the Facebook account, a "friend or family" of the hikers, commented on the post and said, "I AM PRAYING!!!! GOD - THANK YOU!!!"
Shourd spent most of her 14 month captivity in solitary confinement and was also reportedly depressed.
A lawyer for the hikers, Masoud Shafie, told ABC News Thursday he "warned" Iranian officials about Shourd's condition.
"I gave a letter to Tehran investigators and I warned about Sarah's situation and her health is very weak. They can hold them for up to a year for the investigation, but not more than a year if they haven't been given a proper trial," Shafie told ABC News through a translator. "I spoke to the investigator yesterday and notified them of this and God willing on Saturday Sarah will be released and hopefully also the other two.
"We hope. Nothing is certain until it actually happens, but God willing they will be released," he said.
Shourd, Bauer and Fattal were detained by Iranian authorities in July 2009 for allegedly wandering over the Iran-Iraq border and were accused of espionage.
On Aug. 10, the mothers made another open plea to Iran's leaders, invoking the sacred time of Ramadan and Shourd's "serious medical condition."
"Sarah has a serious medical condition and we are gravely concerned for her physical and emotional welfare, for which Iran's leaders are responsible. We urgently call on the Iranian authorities to end her isolation and provide her with adequate care," the mothers said in a statement on a website dedicated to the hikers' release.
In an interview with "GMA" in May, Shourd's mother Nora Shourd, said she wasn't sure what she would do when she finally was reunited with her daughter.
"I think I'm just going to say ridiculously silly things," Nora Shourd said. "'I'm so glad to see you, sweetie. How are you? I love you.' You know, just ordinary stuff."