Sarah Shourd's release from a Tehran prison and her return to the United States have been met with expressions of joy and relief. The young American woman had been held in Evin prison for more than 13 months, after she and 2 companions, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, were detained by Iranian authorities on July 31, 2009, as they were hiking in northern Iraq along the poorly marked border with Iran.
President Barack Obama said in a written statement that "all Americans join with [Sarah Shourd's] courageous mother and family in celebrating her long-awaited return home." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed "great relief" at the news. Both officials thanked the Swiss and Omani governments for their efforts in helping to secure Ms. Shourd's release, as well as other friends and allies who worked toward the same goal.
But President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton also noted that Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who, as President Obama said, "have committed no crime," remain prisoners in Iran. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley pointed out that the facts of the case involving all three young hikers "are identical:"
"So if the Iranian judicial system has reached judgment with respect to Sarah Shourd, we believe very strongly that it could reach the same judgment with respect to Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer."
When Sarah Shourd returned to the United States, she expressed great gratitude for her release, but said she feels "only one third free" because Shane Bauer, who is her fiance, and her friend, Josh Fattal, remain in Evin prison. In his statement, President Barack Obama said, "We remain hopeful that Iran will demonstrate renewed compassion by ensuring the return of Shane, Josh and all the other missing or detained Americans in Iran." President Obama praised the courageous families who are enduring "the unimaginable absence of their loved ones," and promised the U.S. will continue to do everything possible to secure their release.