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Arriving Home, U.S. Woman Rejects Iran Charge

Sarah Shourd speaks to reporters in New York after her return from 410 days in Iranian custody. Behind her are the mothers of her friends and fellow detainees, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer.
The U.S. woman arriving home after more than a year in an Iranian jail has repeated her claim that she and two companions, both of whom remain in custody in Iran, are innocent of the spying charges leveled by Tehran.

Sarah Shourd said she and Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer "had no knowledge of our proximity to the Iran-Iraq border" when they were picked up in July 2009.

Officials in Iran have touted her release as a humanitarian gesture and urged U.S. authorities to reciprocate by freeing eight Iranian nationals that they claim are being held illegally.

Shourd repeated in New York late on September 19 that she feels "one-third free" until her friends are also released.

"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," Shourd said. "We in no way intended any harm to the Iranian government and its people and believe a huge misunderstanding led to our detention and prolonged imprisonment."

The case has further strained already fraught relations between Washington and Tehran, which cut diplomatic ties after Iran's 1979 revolution.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, speaking through a translator in an interview on the ABC program "This Week," called Shourd's release "a huge humanitarian gesture."

"So I believe that it would not be misplaced to ask that the U.S. government should take a humanitarian gesture to release the Iranians who were illegally arrested and detained here in the United States," said Ahmadinejad, who also arrived in New York on September 19 to attend the UN General Assembly this week. Ahmadinejad did not provide details of which Iranians he was referring to.

The United States has repeatedly insisted that Shourd, Fattal, and Bauer were not spies and were not working for the U.S. government.

Shourd reportedly was released after guarantees were provided on bail of $500,000.

compiled from Reuters reports