Iranian Official: American Hiker Sarah Shourd Will Be Released

Sarah Shourd, one of three Americans detained in Iran, has health concerns.

Sept. 9, 2010 — -- Sarah Shourd, one of the three American hikers who have been detained in Iran for more than a year, will be released "very soon," an Iranian official told ABC News today.

Earlier today, an Iranian official texted journalists, alerting them that one of detained hikers would be released Saturday to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"Offering congratulations on Eid al-Fitr," an official in the Iranian culture ministry told reporters by text message, referring to the celebration at the end of Ramadan, according to The Associated Press. "The release of one of the detained Americans will be at Saturday, 9 a.m. at the Estaghlal hotel."

Saturday is also the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

An official at the Iranian Mission to the U.N. told ABC News' Christiane Amanpour that the hiker to be released would be Shourd.

Iran's U.N. Mission later made it official by issuing a statement saying, "I would like to confirm that Iran will be releasing Sarah Shourd (an American hiker) very soon."

Reports emerged as early as May that Shourd was suffering from depression and a serious gynecological condition. Today a spokesman for Shourd's family confirmed the 32-year-old had found a lump in her breast. It is not known if the lump is cancerous.

Shourd has been held in Iran along with American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal since they were captured by Iranian authorities in July 2009 after allegedly wandering over the Iraq-Iran border.

"We have seen the news reports and are urgently seeking further information," the hikers' mothers said in a statement posted on Facebook earlier today. "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!!!"

In response to the report, an attorney for the hikers, Masoud Shafie, released a statement in which he said the Shourd's health was deteriorating in captivity.

"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.

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.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner was unable to confirm the reports and said, "We don't know, frankly, what Iran is contemplating at this point.

"If this turns out to be true, this is terrific news," Toner told reporters. "The hikers' release is long overdue. And I would just stress that we hope that it's all three hikers."

Hiker's History of Reported Health Problems

After more than nine months of desperate pleading, including direct appeals to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hikers' mothers were allowed to see the detained Americans briefly in Iran in May this year. The group was detained under accusations of espionage.

In May, Shourd's mother told "Good Morning America" she was concerned about her daughter because Swiss officials had told her Shourd was depressed. At the same time, the Associated Press reported Shourd was suffering from a serious gynecological condition.

After the initial reunion with their mothers in May, the three hikers spoke to reporters and described their captivity.

Shourd, who spent a majority of her captivity alone, said the food was "good" and, "we have medical care which is appreciated."

Bauer, 28, said the group had a "decent relationship" with the guards and that "it's been civil."

Fattal, 28, said the officials eventually allowed the American to have books while in confinement.

"Once we started getting books that really helped the prison experience a lot," he said.

Before their brief reunion with their children, the mothers made a public plea toIranian officials to set politics aside and release their children.

"The two countries are at odds with each other and we don't want this mixed in with that," Cindy Hickey told "Good Morning America" in early May.

Those tensions have been heightened by the U.S. effort to impose new sanctions on Iran in an effort to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

In an earlier interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said it was up to a judge to decide whether the hikers were telling the truth when they claimed that they simply got lost.

CLICK HERE to see what Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos about the hikers.

"They have to provide proof and evidence to the judge in Iran that shows that they lost their way or made a mistake," Ahmadinejad said then. "When the time comes, they will have a lawyer."

American Hikers Have Been in Iranian Jail Since July 2009

The Americans, all University of California-Berkeley graduates, entered northern Iraq with visas from Turkey on July 28 and planned to spend five days in the area, according to a Web site dedicated to the hikers' release.

"There's no doubt in my mind that if they crossed the border by accident, it was by accident," Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey said.

In the early May interview, Ahmadinejad said he would make a recommendation to the judge to "render maximum cooperation" in regards to the case, but said he had no influence over the judge. The mothers said they saw more when they watched the interview.

Click here to read a full transcript of George Stephanopoulos' interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"We saw compassion in his face during that interview," Laura Fattal said afterwards. "I think President Ahmadinejad -- his face changed when you spoke about the children."

ABC News' Jim Sciutto, Jason Stine and The Associated Press contributed to this report.