Sarah Shourd Leaves Middle East, But Two Men Remain Imprisoned in Iran

American freed from Iran begins trip back to US

Sarah Shourd, the American hiker who was released from an Iranian prison earlier this week after a 14-month detention, arrived back in the United States early Sunday.

Shourd arrived at Dulles International Airport at 6:30 a.m. today accompanied by her mother and uncle. She and her mother Nora then left for New York, where later today they will hold a press conference with the parents of Shourd's fiancé, Shane Bauer, and her friend Josh Fattal, who are still being held in Iran.

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Shourd's arrival in New York will coincide with that of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will be in New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

"We hope they appreciate this job," Ahmadinejad said in a state TV interview broadcast Friday night, in regards to Shourd's release. It is believed that he hopes the United States will release Iranians being held, according to The Associated Press.

"They violated the law," he said on ABC's 'This Week.' "Do you want violators to be released? Is that what you're asking me?" "It would not be misplaced to ask that the U.S. government should take a humanitarian gesture to release the Iranians who were illegally arrested and detained here in the United States," Ahmadinejad said.

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Speaking to a crowd of international media at Oman's airport yesterday, Shourd asked supporters to pray for her two hiking companions who are being held on charges of spying.

"Please, please extend your prayers," Shourd said.

She also thanked Oman for mediating the $500,000 bail Iran required for her release Tuesday.

"I'll always associate your country with the first breath of my freedom, the sweet smell of sandalwood and a chance to stand by the ocean listening to the waves," she said of Oman, adding that she hopes to return one day with Bauer and Fattel.

Shourd, 32, had been detained since 2009 when she, Bauer and Fattal were arrested and accused of espionage.  They were picked up after allegedly crossing into Iran from Iraq in July 2009. 

She was granted freedom after discovering a lump in her breast, but not before making a guarantee of $500,000 bail.

Shourd Thanks Ahmadinejad

Before leaving Iran earlier this week, Shourd singled out President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a statement of gratitude on Iranian TV.

"I want to really offer my thanks to everyone in the world, all of the governments, all of the people that have been involved," said Shourd, 32. "And I especially, particularly want to address President Ahmadinejad, and all of the Iranian officials ... and the religious leaders, and thank them for this humanitarian gesture.

"I'm grateful, and I'm very humbled by this moment," she said.

Family of Jailed Hikers Speak Out

The families of all three hikers released a statement saying that they "applaud the Iranian authorities for showing compassion in Sarah's case and again call on them to do the only right thing and release Shane and Josh immediately."

Laura Fattal, the mother of Josh Fattal, said that her only mission is to bring the two remaining hikers home.

"We believe in our hearts they [Iran] will have this compassion to release both kids and we hope as soon as possible."

Shane Fattal's brother said Ahmadinejad should bring the two jailed men with him to the United States on his upcoming trip to New York.

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