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Released from Iranian Prison, Sarah Shroud Makes Public Statement in New York

Aired September 19, 2010 - 15:04   ET



Back now to New York the arrival of Sarah Shourd. She's one of the three American hikers who have been held in Iran for more than year now.

She was just released earlier in the week and by way of transfer in Oman, Dubai and then Washington Dulles. She is now in New York.

Let's listen in as they prepare for her statement.


NORA SHOURD, SARAH SHROUD'S MOTHER: I share Sarah's gratitude to the many governments and individuals who have worked so hard for their release. I also want to thank the media for your concern for our children. Above all I want to thank my sisters Cindy and Laura who stand with us here today to share in our joy.

Cindy and Laura you've been my rock and I will be yours too. Yesterday was my birthday and I received the greatest gift of all. But Cindy and Laura are still waiting for gifts. And this is why I applaud the humanity that set Sarah free.

And I cry encore, encore. It's time for Shane and Josh to come home to. And we will not stop until they're home and we will redouble our efforts to get them out. Thank you.

SARAH SHOURD, FREED AMERICAN HIKER: Welcome everyone and thank you so much for being here. I want to begin by again expressing my sincere thanks to the government and religious leaders of Iran. My gratitude goes in particular to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad for my compassionate release from detention.

It is my deepest hope that the world would not let this humanitarian gesture by the Iranian government and judicial branch go unrecognized. I believe this decision is a step in the right direction for all of us and above all for my fiance Shane and my dear friend Josh.

I will forever be grateful to his majesty (INAUDIBLE) Abu Sensed (ph) of Oman for his untiring commitment to our case and the warmth that his peoples welcome. When I stepped out of the plane into that beautiful country the carrath (ph) of the sweet fragrant breeze was a promise.

A promise that Shane and Josh is suffering to will end. I also want to thank the American people and our government and people and governments all around the world who had advocated for our release and supported our families for the last 13 months.

Lastly I want to extend my gratitude to our lawyer Masoud Shafili for his tireless work on our behalf and to my friend Ambassador Loy of Switzerland for her support and continued engagement. Getting on the plane in Tehran was one of the most memorable and important moments of my life.

But this is not the time to celebrate. My disappointment in not sharing this with Shane and Josh was crushing and I stand before you today only one third free. That was the last thing that Josh said to me before I walked through the prison doors.

Josh and Shane felt one-third free at that moment and so did I. The only thing that enabled me to cross the Gulf from prison to freedom alone was the knowledge that Shane and Josh wanted with all their heart for my suffering to end.

They showed nothing but joy at my release and that more than anything is testimony to the selflessness and beauty of their spirits. I had many concerns while I was in prison about my health and thankfully the doctors in Oman have reassured me that I am physically well.

As we say in Arabic Al Hamdela (ph) praise be to God. Shane and Josh do not deserve to be in prison one day longer than I was. We committed no crime and we are not spies. We in no way intended any harm to the Iranian government or its people.

And believe a huge misunderstanding led to our detention and prolonged imprisonment. Shane, Josh and I had no knowledge of our proximity to the Iran/Iraq border when we were hiking at Akmadower (ph) Waterfall. A popular tourist site frequented by local families in Iraqi Kurtistanton (ph).

If we were indeed near the Iran/Iraq border that border was entirely unmarked and indistinguishable. Though my friends and I never intended or chose to go to Iran the tragedy of our imprisonment has forever marked our destinies.

I never in my worst nightmare imagined that I would be a prisoner. I never saw it coming and I never knew that my family would have to suffer like this. I also want to be clear that I do not in any way blame the Iranian people for the pain our families and friends are suffering.

I found Iranians to be a diverse and generous people defined by their fervent worship of God, their noble Islamic values. Like all of us they love their families and they want to live in peace.

At the time of our arrest Shane and I were working in the Middle East and living Damascus, Syria. Shane my fiance is a courage and talented international journalist. I taught English to Iraqi and Palestinian refugees as well as Syrian Nationals.

Josh is an Environmental Teacher who arrived in Syria as our guest less than a week before our arrest. After leading a study abroad program about global health challenges. Our humanitarian work in different areas was what attracted Shane and Josh to each other and lay the foundation for the strong relationship that the three us enjoy.

My hope is that by learning who we are and how we came to be in this diverse and fascinating region of the world directly from my lips. It will help clear our any doubts and end Shane and Josh's detention.

I intend to talk about this issue more in the days and weeks ahead because it is time to clear up the misunderstanding that led to our imprisonment. I also firmly believe that now is the time to make the world a little safer for everyone through peace and dialogue.

I believe that our tragedy is an opportunity for Americans and Iranians to realize that an improved relationship would be in the best interest for all people. My hope that in our own small way Shane, Josh and I as individuals can help begin a bridge between our two desperate countries and cultures.

I walked out of prison with my spirit bruised but unbroken. And I am more determined than ever that Shane and Josh God wiling En Sha Ala (ph) will soon walk out the same way. My life begins that day that I go to pick them up.

The day that all three of us can be reunited with our families, with the prison walls far behind us. My work is cut out for me and I need all the help that I can get. I ask everyone who cares about Shane and Josh's freedom to please stand behind us now.

So that we can make this final push for their freedom together. I also ask the government and people of the world please help in the process of cooperation and bridge building at this crucial time. Please help us create an atmosphere of goodwill in the world.

Please help us free Shane and Josh. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Do you have a message for your fiance?

SARAH SHOURD: No thank you.


WHITFIELD: All right there American hiker Sarah Shourd with the mothers. All three mothers of the three hikers who were hiking together in Iraq before being detained in Iran. There you see Sarah Shourd walking with her mother there.

The two remaining mothers still holding out hope for the release of their sons Shane Bower and Josh Fattal who continue to be held in Iran. You heard Sarah Shourd describe it as being one-third free until Shane Bower and Josh Fattal are also released. She also took the opportunity to say that they Josh and Shane showed no, nothing but joy upon her release and she of course took the opportunity to explain there. While they're in New York this is a located now back in New York after making her journey.

We understand that they're also asking some questions there of the mothers. Let's try and listen in.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) some prisoners here in the United States release and exchange for the freedom of your sons?

LAURA FATTAL, JOSH FATTAL'S MOTHER: We are mothers we are not politicians and we are just very, very eager clearly to have our children return to us. We are not involved with the politics between nations.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) Susan (INAUDIBLE) from CNN. With the President Ahmadinejad in New York this week are there any plans to (INAUDIBLE) meeting with him or hold any kind of visual or demonstration outside the UN?

CINDY HICKEY, SHANE BAUER'S MOTHER: We have asked for a meeting. We requested a meeting with President Ahmadinejad and we're hoping that we get one. We haven't, we haven't heard any news about that yet but we're very hopeful.



HICKEY: We're actually mothers. There's that hope is undying for us. It doesn't stop. You know again our focus is on the humanitarian case that it is. And we're going to continue to proceed as we always have. Again a mother's hope is never going to end. It's always going to be strong.

FATTAL: And we are encouraged since Sarah has been released. We, President Ahmadinejad has said it to humanitarian effort all of the Iranian government was behind him and in support of this release and we are encouraged that perhaps the humanitarianism will be renewed and continued and Josh and Shane will be home very soon.

QUESTION: Have either of your sons sent a message for you through Sarah?

HICKEY: You know we haven't had a whole lot of time to talk to Sarah but the brief you know a little bit of the message that I have heard so far is I love all my family and we appreciate everything you are doing along with everyone in this country all its people and also countries and people around the world.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) yourself or not or Shane in prison are you more or less worried by what she said to you about the treatment of your own sons? Did she describe any mistreatment? Or do you know the (INAUDIBLE) of any prisoner that are in prison that bad things happen there? And did you hear anything that give you concern about your son (OFF-MIKE).

FATTAL: We have really just seen her for a very, very short time and that was not what we spoke about. So at another time perhaps we'll address that.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) from Fox News. Do you think that the reasons you've not spoken about conditions yet to protect the two men who are still there?

HICKEY: Actually, she just landed. So you know, we don't know. We just have, we don't have those details.


FATTAL: We understand that Josh, Shane and Sarah have all seen their lawyer Mr. Masoud Shafili. We understand that. We understand that we believe the investigation is finished. But some news reports had some open ended comments that I am not positive the investigation is concluded.

I am very secure that my son Josh and his very good friend Shane will defend themselves brilliantly and all three of them are innocent hikers.


Can you talk to us about the moment when you find out that Sarah would be released but your two sons would not be released?

HICKEY: When I knew that Sarah was definitely released it was a very bitter sweet moment for me. Sweet because I love Sarah very much along with Shane and Josh and the rest of our families. We can't - we couldn't wait to embrace her.

Very bitter. I mean the cold hard truth is Shane and Josh are still in prison and we want them home.


FATTAL: When I heard the news I believe it was September 14th. I know she was, Sarah was incarcerated for 410 days. It began, it was a mixed blessing. I was thrilled for Sarah. I was so happy for Nora and I was heartbroken for Cindy and myself. We want our son's home.

We have wonderful children, wonderful young people and they should not be end up in prison. They should not be in any prison.


HICKEY: Well we will continue the efforts as we have for the last 14 months. What are next move will be? You know we have to get through this. There's a lot of excitement right now. And typically what we do as families is we will gather again in the next day or two and sit down and make some plans.

But you know we're going to be full steam ahead. We're going to continue this process until they're home.


FATTAL: I think we both can answer this but I think the humanity of and - the humanity of our plea being face to face with human being talking to each other face to face the high regard for motherhood in Iran. I think all of these things can work in our favor.

And I look forward very, very much to having the opportunity if the President Ahmadinejad would meet with us. I would very much look forward to that opportunity.


HICKEY: My son expressed to me where he was going. I've done a lot of investigating myself. It is a very well-known tourist area. His expression was a safe place. No I did not express any concern. I didn't have any concern.

This is a tourist area. It's reported to be very safe and very promoted as a tourist area. So I did not - I wasn't concern in any way.


HICKEY: Our pleas are as mothers. We don't get mixed up in the politics of this. I feel like the US government is doing their job and we're doing ours. There's two separate jobs.


FATTAL: We really do not know. We are really very, very much unaware of any interactions. But what we are aware of is that many, many foreign governments have advocated for Josh and Shane and previously for Sarah to be released.

And so the wonderful advocacy of nations all over the world has been very close to our heart and we are very, very indebted to them.


HICKEY: Not to have Shane home. You know I want Shane here for me. I want Shane home for his family and bigger than anything I want Shane home so we can continue to do the good work that he does. He's made some good humanitarian efforts and I want that to be continued.


WHITFIELD: You're listening to the mother of Shane Bauer, Cindy Hickey there and Laura Fattal the mother of Josh Fattal. Two Americans remain detained in Iran. You heard from Cindy who mentioned earlier the release of Sarah Shourd was bitter sweet.

Sweet because they love Sarah Shourd and they're glad that she's home. But bitter of course because the two sons remain in captivity there being held in a prison in Iran. We'll have much more on the arrival of Sarah Shourd to US soil and the continued case of Shane and Josh in Iran. We'll have that at the top of the hour 4:00 Eastern Time joins us then.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Now back to "YOUR MONEY."