AFP: The US government will not pay prison bail for American hiker Sarah Shourd, who Iran says it will release on health grounds in exchange for 500,000 dollars, the State Department said Monday.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The US government will not pay prison bail for American hiker Sarah Shourd, who Iran says it will release on health grounds in exchange for 500,000 dollars, the State Department said Monday.
“The United States government does not fund prisoner bail,” State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley told reporters, reiterating the standard US policy.
“We in the United States government would not be involved in that action, if that action were to be taken.”
Shourd, arrested along with fellow hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal in July 2009 after straying into Iran from Iraq, was expected to have been freed on Saturday, but legal technicalities halted their release.
Crowley stressed the prison bail was simply “one manner to resolve the situation,” albeit without US government funds, calling the bail offer from Tehran “simply unclear.”
He also declined to comment on whether any potential transfer of funds to Iran, a country under sanctions by the United Nations and individual countries such as the United States, would be legal.
“There are transactions all the time between Iran and the rest of the world,” he said. “Some of them violate sanctions, others don’t.”
A US official who requested anonymity said a bail payment initiated in the United States could “probably” take place.
“But I don’t know that the process has reached that point yet,” the official added.
Shourd’s mother Nora told AFP last month her 32-year-old daughter was being held in solitary confinement despite suffering from a pre-cancerous cervical condition, a lump in her breast and depression.
US President Barack Obama and human rights groups have called on Iran to release the three hikers.
The Swiss embassy manages US interests in Iran as Washington and Tehran have had no direct diplomatic ties since the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
“Right now our focus is on working as hard as we can to seek the release of all three of the hikers,” Crowley said.