Headlines: US Hiker Sarah Shourd Released
15 Sep 2010 02:32
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Sarah Shourd Released From Iranian Prison, Now in Oman Reunited With Mom
ABC | Sept 14
The American hiker who was released from an Iranian prison today after a 14-month detention is now in Oman in the arms of her mother.
Before leaving Iran, Sarah Shourd singled out President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a statement of gratitude she made 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," 32-year-old Sarah Shourd said on Iran's Press TV. "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."
Shourd, one of three Americans who have been held in Iran since being arrested in 2009 and accused of espionage, was released on a guarantee of $500,000 bail.
Freeing Captives Of 'Rogue States' A Delicate Task
NPR | Sept 14
An American hiker held in Iran for 410 days was on her way home Tuesday, but questions linger about the deal that was struck for her freedom -- including what it may have cost.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, fielding questions about the release of Sarah Shourd, was careful to avoid any implication that Washington cut a deal involving a $500,000 "bail" payment initially requested by Tehran.
"You're asking if money has changed hands?" Crowley asked in response to one reporter's question. "The short answer is: we don't know."
"All I can say is if the question is did the U.S. government pay anything for this release, the answer is no."
Out of Iran, But Not Yet Home Free
Newsweek | Sept 14
The hours Sarah Shourd spent between leaving Tehran's notorious Evin prison, where she was in solitary confinement for more than a year, and crossing Iranian airspace must have been the most excruciating and longest hours of her life. I know that because I have been there. After spending 118 days in Evin in 2009, being charged with espionage every day and threatened with execution on a daily basis, all I wanted to do was to leave Iran and join my family in London.
Even after almost a year since my release, in October 2009, I still receive threatening phone calls from Iran. The callers tell me that I should be silent about what I saw and endured in prison. "Otherwise you will be brought back in a bag to Iran," they say. I am not sure what threats Sarah Shourd received in the days leading to her release but I am sure that she has been threatened that if she talks negatively about the Iranian government and the Revolutionary Guards who arrested and held her since July 2009, she would jeopardize the release of her fiancé, Shane Bauer, and her friend, Josh Fattal, who were arrested with her somewhere along the Iran-Iraq border.
Iranian diplomat defects, says seeks Norway asylum
AFP | Sept 14
An Iranian diplomat called Tuesday for an uprising against the Tehran government, as he became the third Europe-based envoy to defect this year and announced he was seeking asylum in Norway.
"I'm seeking political asylum with all my family," Farzad Farhangian, a press attache at the Iranian embassy in Brussels, told reporters in Oslo, adding he intended to join the opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"I'm apologising to the Iranian people. During the last 30 years I was of service to the Iranian people, 23 of them in the diplomatic service, but the deviation that the Iranian republic has reached leaves me no choice," he said.
A senior official at the Iranian embassy in Helsinki, Hossein Alizadeh, told reporters Monday he was seeking asylum in Finland, and the ex-consul general of Iran's embassy in Oslo, Mohamed Reza Heydari, was granted asylum by Norway in February after he resigned the previous month.
See also: "Defecting Iranian Diplomat Says Ahmadinejad Government 'Damaging Iran'" (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) | "Former Iranian Diplomat Hails 'Green Embassy Campaign'" (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
Iran: UN watchdog in error over nuclear program
AP | Sept 14
Iran's nuclear chief said Tuesday the head of a U.N. watchdog agency made a dangerous mistake by criticizing Tehran for not fully cooperating.
Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Monday he cannot confirm that all of Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful, as Tehran claims, because the country has offered only selective cooperation to the U.N. nuclear watchdog and has rejected several inspectors.
"If Mr. Amano has expressed the remarks knowingly, he has committed a big mistake and it is very dangerous," said Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's nuclear program. He said this would amount to outside pressure on Iran.
In blunt remarks, Amano suggested that it is still not clear whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons because the country continues to stonewall an IAEA probe.
Cleric calls on Iran to take U.S.-led sanctions seriously
Washington Post | Sept 14
An influential former Iranian president on Tuesday criticized the government in unusually blunt terms, saying that it is not taking U.S.-led sanctions seriously enough and that Iran could become a "dictatorship."
The remarks by Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani represent a rebuke of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, though Rafsanjani did not mention him by name. Rafsanjani was also quoted by the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency as indirectly saying that the government is not adhering to the Islamic Republic's laws.
"We have never been faced with so many sanctions," Rafsanjani said at the start of a meeting of an influential clerical council. "I would like to ask you and all the country's officials to take the sanctions seriously and not as a joke."
Rafsanjani warned that a "fifth column" was present in the country, posing both as supporters and enemies of Khamenei.
See also: "Rafsanjani Underlines Iran's Capability to Confront Sanctions" (Fars)
Iran's Khamenei urges US to punish Koran defilers
AFP | Sept 14
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on arch-foe the United States to punish those who desecrated the Koran, saying the "catastrophe" had offended Muslims across the world.
"Today, the US government and politicians must answer the demands of all Muslims," the Iranian supreme leader said in a statement carried by the ILNA news agency late on Monday.
"If they are true to their claims that they did not have a hand in the incident, they should find a suitable punishment for the key elements behind this great catastrophe which has caused heartache to one and a half billion Muslims."
Evangelical pastor Terry Jones had threatened in the runup to the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States to burn hundreds of copies of the Koran at his tiny Florida church. He later relented.
But a group of conservative Christians tore up pages of the Muslim holy book in a protest outside the White House on Saturday.
Iran and Africa seek a new world order: Ahmadinejad
Mehr | Sept 14
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iran and Africa seek to promote a new world order to replace the current one which has been created by former colonizers and slave masters.
Ahmadinejad made the remarks in an opening speech to the Iran-Africa Forum in Tehran on Tuesday.
Representatives from governments and private sectors of over 40 African nations including the presidents of Senegal and Malawi are attending the two-day summit which focuses on expanding political and economic ties.