Hiker won't return to Iran for trial
Thursday, May 5, 2011
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 $500,000 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 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.
Shourd’s bail was arranged through the Gulf nation of Oman, which has close ties to the West and Iran. Iranian officials ordered Shourd back for the trial. Because of her refusal, her bail likely will be forfeited. The source of the $500,000 bail payment has not been disclosed.