Lawyer awaits word on $500,000 bail to free detained AmericanBy AP
Monday, September 13, 2010
Lawyer awaiting word on bail for detained American
TEHRAN, Iran — The lawyer of an American woman cleared for release from an Iranian prison said Monday he is still waiting for word that the $500,000 bail has been paid.
Masoud Shafiei told The Associated Press that he has been in contact with the family of Sarah Shourd and the Swiss Embassy, which handles U.S. affairs in Iran because there are no diplomatic relations between Washington and Tehran.
He said there has been no change in the case since Sunday when Iran’s judiciary said the 32-year-old woman could be released on health grounds after more than a year in custody.
Shourd and two U.S. companions were arrested in July 2009 along the border with Iraq.
The decision to release Shourd came after a power struggle within Iran’s conservative leadership put her freedom in doubt.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had personally promised Shourd’s release on Friday as a sign of Islamic compassion at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, but was quickly rebuked by the judiciary which proceeded to set its own conditions for a release, including the bail amount.
The only reported challenge to the decision came by an Iranian lawmaker.
Ahmad Tavakkoli called the release a “bonus for Quran burners,” referring to a once-planned event by a minor church in the U.S. state of Florida.
“The release of an American woman in the context of intensifying sanctions and threats by the U.S against Iran — as well as Quran-burning — was not right,” he told the Fars news agency late Sunday.
A prominent conservative lawmaker, Tavakkoli is a frequent critic of the president’s policies.
Iranian newspapers did not comment on the decision.
Iran has accused the three of illegally crossing the border and spying in a case that has deepened tensions with Washington.
The detainees’ families say they were hiking in Iraq’s scenic north when they were detained on July 31, 2009, and that if they crossed the border, they did so unwittingly.