Freed U.S. Hiker Not Returning For Spy Trial In Iran

WASHINGTON (AP) — An American woman released from prison in Iran says she won’t go back to stand trial there alongside two fellow hikers charged with spying for the U.S.

Sarah Shourd told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she is suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and returning would be “far too traumatic after what I’ve already been through.”

The three Americans insist they were on an innocent hiking trip during a vacation in Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region in the north of Iraq, when they were arrested by Iranian soldiers on July 31, 2009. U.S. authorities have repeatedly called for their release and denied that the hikers were involved in espionage.

Shourd was released from Iranian custody on bail in September. Her fiance Shane Bauer and friend Josh Fattal, both still imprisoned in Tehran, are scheduled for a second session of their trial on May 11.

Bauer and Fattal pleaded innocent in a first trial session in February. Shourd pleaded innocent in absentia. The hikers say they did not realize they had crossed into Iran.

Shourd said the three had visited the popular tourist village of Ahmed Awa and then hiked onward along a trail that local people had recommended.

“When Shane and Josh and I met the Iranian soldiers, we were completely shocked. There was absolutely no indication of a border,” she said.

Shourd said she was diagnosed with PTSD by clinical forensic psychologist Barry Rosenfeld. She said the five-page psychological evaluation had been sent to the Iranian Revolutionary Court. Shourd said she had not heard back in response to her refusal to go back for trial on the grounds that she risked “renewed or even worse psychological problems” if she returns.

“My own mental health makes me even more afraid for what is happening with Shane and Josh,” Shourd said. “I was there for 14 months and Shane and Josh have now been there for over 21 months. So I can’t imagine the toll it’s taken on them.”

Shourd was released on $500,000 bail arranged through the Gulf nation of Oman, which has close ties to the West and Iran. Iranian officials ordered Shourd back for the trial. By refusing to respond to the request, her bail likely will be forfeited. The source of the bail payment has not been disclosed.

Shourd and Bauer had been living together in Damascus, Syria, where Bauer was working as a freelance journalist and Shourd as an English teacher. Fattal, an environmental activist, went to visit them in July 2009 shortly before their trip to northern Iraq.

It was impossible to forecast what punishment Bauer and Fattal could face if found guilty, because of the secretive nature of the Iranian judicial system. Their case recalls that of American-Iranian journalist Roxanna Saberi, who was arrested in Iran in January 2009, convicted of espionage and sentenced to eight years in prison. She was freed on appeal in May 2009.

Shroud said she has established no permanent address since her return. She grew up in Los Angeles, but her mother, Nora, lives in Oakland, Calif. Bauer is a native of Onamia, Minn. Fattal grew up in Pennsylvania.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Tony

    You can continue to sit on your a$$ in your moms basement and pass judgement on others if you choose. I promise that anyone who reads your comments will be thinking you are the a$$.

    • Lower Middle Class man

      Not everyone – I’m with Mike on this one. I think more people will think you are a crazy A$$

  • Pork chop fan

    She is leaving her fiancé over there? Not cool.

  • lib

    She has paid enough for unknowingly crossing a boarder. I hope the young men will be returned soon. They are merely being used by the Iranians to tweak the US. The reallly scary part is the Iranian govt has no respect for human life, and certainlly not the lives of Americans.

  • Damion

    Actually Tony, I was thinking that her BF will likely suffer because she is not going back. That is what kind of people they are dealing with. And no, it’s not cool to leave someone hang out to dry.

  • HDMC

    she is setting an example of why not to release the other two guys on bail. who the hell hikes near iran any way? Tough luck hippies!!

  • Mike

    Well, I am not clinical forensic psychologist Barry Rosenfeld but I am pretty sure I could give all 3 of them a diagnosis of near terminal stupidity for deciding to take a stroll on the Iran-Iraq border.

  • WHAT?????

    I was not thinking that at all Tony, I was thinking that by her doing this she is going to have the hammer come down on the other 2 people. She was “lucky” if you can call it that and was released because of health problems and that took a lot to have done. For the other 2 men that are still being held this is going to be a lot harder to get them home now as you should already be aware by how long this story has been going on that they do not want to let them go. This would be a perfect reason to keep them now as they would be “flight risks” now that she has said she would not go back. I remember reading the story where she promised in court she would return for trial, and now that she will not…. You should be able to fill in the rest.
    By the way, it is easy for you to pass judgment sitting in your mom’s basement as well. Pork chop fan gave his opinion, you gave an insult, you understand how this makes YOU the “a$$” now?

  • Clarence

    All three got it coming to them for being so stupid as to hike around an area where evil muslims love to behead people and cause death and destruction. What were they thinking? They are either naive or stupid or both. I don’t feel sorry for them, and I don’t care if anyone dosen’t like my comment-it’s the simple truth of the matter. When people put deliberatlely themselves in harms way, why should we care?

  • JKB

    Has it occured to anyone that possibly the three were intentionally given the wrong directions knowing the possibility of their being arrested? The country do not like Americans, so what makes us think theyd care what happened to these three. As for the 500 grand, thats pretty sad, now whomever put that money up for bail,in good faith,is stuck holding the bag!

  • Mel

    If I was this woman’s fiance, I would hope and pray that she would not return. As a woman, her torture would probably be pretty horrendous, and if I were a man, I would do anything to keep the woman I loved from experiencing that. Also, she may be getting counsel from our government to not return. Just my opinion though. The whole thing is just horrible.

  • Pork Chop Fan

    After thinking about this some more, I don’t blame her for not going back, but it will make it more difficult on the other 2. The timing of killing Bin Laden is also not good for these 2 guys. Of course no one wants to have American civilians stranded in an Iranian jail. Not sure what the best move is. How do you prove you are not a spy?

  • Anastaia Beaverhausen

    First of all, why in the world would any one pick those countries to take a vacation? Serioulsy? Its all over the news about Iran & Iraq. How they treat humans and Im assuming they treat Americans far worse. So thats my big question. Second, why did the woman only get released? I understand shes on bail, but why just her? I dont blame her not wanting to go back, but dont blame it on some b.s. P.D.S. disorder. You dont want to go back because you think theyre going to put you back in Jail. Its plain and simple. I dont blame her, who wants to go back once you are released. WHo cares about the money. Let it go. But youre leaving your future husband over there. He is still there, suffering. If I had to chain myself to the white house to get attention, set a fire so the news would come. I would make so much noise about this and demand his release. I would starve myself, anything to get help. Not just say well I have P.D.S. disorder & Im going to bring awarness. Hell no, is you love that man, you better be doing way more than that!!!

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