Freed U.S. hiker meets Iran’s president

  • Sat Sep 25th, 2010 10:29pm
  • News

Associated Press

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.

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

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

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

Shourd came to New York to advocate for the release of her fiance, Shane Bauer, and their friend Josh Fattal, who remain imprisoned in Tehran after 14 months.

Shourd spoke Thursday about the monotony, cramped quarters and fears for her future during her 410 days in an Iranian prison, mostly in solitary confinement.

In one of her first interviews since her Sept. 14 release from the Tehran prison, she said that she chooses to savor the few moments of joy she found in her imprisonment.

One of her happiest days, she said, was the celebration of her 32nd birthday last month. Somehow the men, who remain in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, had persuaded a guard to bring her a cake.

But most days in prison were monotonous — or terrifying. She was amazed at her interrogators “good cop, bad cop” approach, just like on TV shows back in the U.S.

The two men were moved into a cell together. The three Americans were allowed to see each other, at first for 30 minutes each day, then for an hour, then for two.

The trio had local TV, including 15 minutes of English-language news every day. They received a bundle of letters from their parents and siblings about once a month. And they had books in English. Shourd read the Quran, using her basic Arabic to talk haltingly with her Farsi-speaking guards.