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Thursday
May052011

Hiker Sarah Shourd Won't Return to Iran to Attend Espionage Trial

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- American Sarah Shourd, who was held in captivity in Iran for more than a year, says that there's no way she'll be returning to that country to stand trial next week on espionage charges.

Shourd and her two male companions, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, were hiking in northern Iraq on July 31, 2009 when they were taken into custody by Iranian soldiers, who claimed the trio had illegally crossed over into their territory.

For over 14 months, Shourd was kept in solitary confinement until she was released by Iranian authorities after posting $500,000 bail in September of 2010.  Bauer, to who Shourd became engaged to in prison, and Fattal were not freed and face the possibility of long jail sentences if convicted of spying for the U.S., charges vehemently denied by their families and the U.S. State Department.

While Shourd wants desperately to be with Bauer and Fattal during their trying time, she says that going back to Iran would aggravate the depression and post traumatic stress she has suffered from her ordeal.

Obviously conflicted about her decision, Shourd, now 32, said, "I worry about their safety, I worry about their mental health.  We've had no information from them, no contact, phone call, nothing for over five months... what I've heard is that they now have only 40 minutes out of their cell every day."

Shourd contends that Bauer and Fattal are caught in a "political tug-of-war" between the U.S. and Iran.  The two governments broke off diplomatic relations in 1979 when Iranian revolutionaries stormed the American Embassy in Tehran and held 53 people hostage for 444 days.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio