Thursday, September 16, 2010

Iran Frees Sarah Shourd

Yesterday's paper carried a photo of a happy Sarah Shourd with her mom in Iran. Without a doubt this was a moment of exhilaration for Sarah and her mom, but also provided a glimmer of hope to the other moms, dads, siblings of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer who remain imprisoned in Tehran, currently charged with espionage.

Quick reminder: On July 31 2009 the three young people were vacationing in a remote area of Iraq, hiking in a mountainous region near the Iran border. Iranian authorities swept them away, claiming they were on Iranian territory, trespassing. In May, the mothers obtained visiting rights for two days, but other than that the three have been held in custody in Tehran's Evin Prison and a lengthy silence ensued. For the bulk of this past 13+ months, the youths were being held but no charges had been filed. Essentially, no one knew what was going on.

A complication in obtaining their release has been that the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with Iran.

When I read the news, it included mention of her being release on $500,000 bail. In other words, she was not entirely free. My first thought was to wonder who her benefactor was. As we all know, there is a lot of wealth in the world.

Today's London Telegraph has published an answer to that question already. The benefactor was apparently the billionaire Sultan of Oman.

What I have found especially intriguing in this story was a comment made by Shane Bauer's mom on July 31. She shared that although the U.S. government channels were purportedly busy working on their release, she discovered that there are other channels -- through the religious community networks -- by which their potential release could be achieved. This discovery greatly encouraged her.

Let's not forget the other two young men. May they be encouraged as well by Sarah's unexpected release.

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