Freed Hiker Tells Oprah of Iranian Ordeal

Hopes fiance, pal will soon be freed

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    This file photo taken May 20, 2010, shows Sarah Shourd at a hotel in Tehran, Iran.

    American hiker and accused spy Sarah Shourd told Oprah Winfrey she still feels like a captive, even though Iran let her go after 14 months in a Tehran prison.

    "In a way I'm still being punished because they still have the power to hurt me," Shourd, 32, said Thursday on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

    That's because her fiancé Shane Bauer and their friend Josh Fattal are still being held, charged with straying across the Iraq-Iran border in the service of the U.S. government. They were captured on July 21, 2009, after traveling to Ahmad Awah, and area known for its museums, food and Kurdish culture in northern Iraq. Shourd told Winfrey the trio set off on a trail after asking workers at a small breakfast spot where to hike.

    Three hours later, "we saw soldiers," Shourd said. "We had no idea we crossed into Iran," she said. They soon wound up in a prison in Tehran where they were interrogated and charged with being spies, for which there is "absolutely no evidence of any kind," she said. She was held alone in a tiny cell.

    "It was a horrible experience," she told Winfrey.

    After two months, Shourd was able to see her two companions, both 28, for about a half hour each week, when they would meet in a small courtyard and hold hands. Later, she was able to spend about an hour a day with them.

    Shourd was allowed to shower every day and even found a way to dress up for a "date night" with Bauer by dabbing some strawberry jelly on her lips. Nine months into their stay, Bauer proposed.

    Shourd discovered a lump in her breast, but said she was given no medical attention for months. When she was finally able to see a doctor, she was not allowed to ask any questions. The lump turned out to be benign, she discovered after being examined in the U.S.

    On Sept. 14, Shourd was told she could be released for treatment and then was flown to Oman after her $500,000 bail was paid. She did not detail who paid her bail or how it was arranged.

    "I need to keep up my pleas to the Iranian government and religious leaders to show the same humanitarian gesture," she said, "the same compassion for my friends because they don't deserve to be there."

    Selected Reading: People, Oprah.com, Christian Science Monitor.