A senior prosecutor said yesterday that Iran would release US hiker Sarah Shourd on bail, as he criticized members of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government for interfering in judicial issues.
Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said that Shourd, one of three US hikers detained in Iran for more than a year for spying, had been granted bail on health grounds on a surety of about US$500,000.
“For the female defendant [Shourd], bail has been set at 5 billion Iranian rials [about US$500,000],” the official IRNA news agency quoted Dolatabadi as telling reporters.
“She can be freed by posting the bail ... Her lawyer has been informed,” he said, adding that the decision was taken after “the judge confirmed Ms Shourd’s illness.”
Shourd’s mother Nora said last month that her daughter was being held in solitary confinement despite suffering from a pre-cancerous cervical condition, a lump in her breast and depression.
Shourd was arrested with fellow hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal on July 31 last year, after straying across the border from Iraq.
Iranian authorities have accused the three Americans of illegally entering the Islamic republic and of spying. However, they insist they entered the country by mistake after getting lost during a trek in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Several Iranian officials had said on Thursday that Shourd would be released on Saturday. However, legal technicalities delayed her release, Dolatabadi said on Friday.
Shourd’s release could ease tensions between Washington and Tehran, which have heightened in recent months over Iran’s controversial uranium enrichment program.
Her case has highlighted deep divisions between Ahmadinejad’s government and institutions run by traditional conservatives such as Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, who heads the judiciary.
Larijani last month hit out at Ahmadinejad over remarks he made about a separate legal case, while his brother, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, has repeatedly criticized the president over his handling of the economy.
Yesterday, Dolatabadi criticized the government directly, saying that “releasing information on judicial cases should not be done by government officials, and judicial authorities should handle it.”
Iranian officials, including Ahmadinejad, had previously said the three US hikers could be swapped for Iranian citizens in US custody.
Talk of such an exchange had emerged when US authorities allowed the return home of an Iranian researcher Shahram Amiri, who surfaced in Washington in July after disappearing in Saudi Arabia last year.
However, the Fars news agency quoted Dolatabadi as saying that there was “no link” between Amiri’s case and that of the three US hikers.
He reiterated that the three hikers were accused of espionage.
“The case is nearly complete and the judge has issued an indictment for the three Americans accused of spying,” he said, adding that Bauer and Fattal had been remanded in custody.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and