Freed hiker, Iran leader meet

She pleads with Ah­madine­jad for the re­lease of two oth­ers still im­pris­oned.

Los Angeles Times - - National Briefing -

new york — Sarah Shourd, one of three Amer­i­cans ar­rested last year while hik­ing near the Iran-Iraq border, met with Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad on Fri­day to plead for the re­lease of her still-im­pris­oned fi­ance and their friend.

Fam­ily spokes­woman Sa­man­tha Top­ping con­firmed the meet­ing with Ah­madine­jad, who was in New York to at­tend the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly. Top­ping de­clined to say what was dis­cussed.

“I’m just go­ing to keep push­ing ev­ery minute for their re­lease on hu­man­i­tar­ian grounds,” Shourd told ABC News out­side a ho­tel af­ter she and her mother, Nora, met with the Ira­nian pres­i­dent.

Shourd, 32, called the en­counter “a very gra­cious ges­ture and a good meet­ing,” and said Ah­madine­jad seemed friendly and that it was “a very hu­man en­counter, very per­sonal.”

Shourd came to New York to ad­vo­cate for the re­lease of her fi­ance, Shane Bauer, and their friend Josh Fat­tal, who have been im­pris­oned in Tehran for 14 months. Shourd was re­leased Sept. 14.

Ah­madine­jad said that he hoped Bauer and Fat­tal would be able to pro­vide ev­i­dence that “they had no ill in­ten­tion in cross­ing the border” so that they can be re­leased.

Iran has is­sued es­pi­onage-re­lated in­dict­ments against the three, which could bring tri­als for the two men and pro­ceed­ings in ab­sen­tia for Shourd, al­though she says she hasn’t ruled out re­turn­ing to face trial.

She wants the world to see Bauer and Fat­tal.

“The only thing that gives my free­dom mean­ing is that I have this work to do, be­cause hon­estly, if I felt like there was noth­ing to do out here, if I wasn’t needed in so many ways, I would have rather stayed with them,” she said.

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