September 24th, 2010
04:24 PM ET

American hiker Sarah Shourd meets Iranian president

[Updated 4:23 p.m.] Freed American hiker Sarah Shourd and her mother, Nora, met Friday with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York, a family spokeswoman said.


[Updated 9:16 a.m.] Sarah Shourd is happy to be back in the United States after being held for 14 months in an Iranian prison. The homecoming, as welcome as it was, is still bittersweet. Her companions, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal are still being held. The three were arrested last year when they were hiking near the Iran-Iraq border. Sarah Shourd talked on CNN's "American Morning" about her ordeal and efforts to get her two friends free.

Kiran Chetry: I can't imagine the emotion you're going through. How are you physically and mentally after the release?

Sarah Shourd: Well, it is hard to explain. I mean, of course, I feel grateful. I wouldn't be free if it wasn't for a huge groundswell of supports of governments and people across the world from Desmond Tutu in South Africa to a homeless woman in San Francisco donating money for us. It is incredible. I know that the same people are doubling their efforts and no one's going to give up until Shane and Josh are with us.

John Roberts: I can't imagine the experience. One moment hiking out there in the country and then the next you're in Iran's notorious Evin prison.

Shourd: Nothing in life can prepare you for something like this. The only thing that got me through is thinking about my mother suffering and loved ones and I had to come back to them. I had to walk out strong and now I have to be stronger than ever. I didn't expect it to end this way for me. I mean, it is not over but I didn't expect to have my freedom be so bittersweet.

Chetry: Because they're still there and you, as you said, you know nothing. There's no information coming out. Have you heard anything from the Iranian government or anyone?

Shourd: No. It's always uncertain. There's no guarantees, no assurances. We're hopeful. This is a good precedent. I was released on humanitarian [grounds] and I feel confident they'll extend the same to my fiance and dear friend and I hope it is soon. This is too long. Now, our pain was invisible. Everyone is seeing the pain of our families which is in many ways just as bad. And in many ways worse, you know? But no one can see your pain when you're in prison. You're invisible. The guards, streaming down tears, slamming the door in my face and walk away. Now only I know what Shane and Josh are enduring. I can see them in the cramped little cell with very little sunlight and [they] only get out an hour a day and, you know, they exercise side by side on a space like the size of a towel. And they're wonderful, wonderful people. And I want the world to meet them.

Roberts: We've certainly got an idea of what your families were going through because we had Josh's brother, Alex and mom on [the show] a lot. We had your mom on one morning and we certainly know the pain that they were enduring but people wondering about the pain that you were in and how you were treated. I know you have said that some of your captors were nice. Some of them not so nice. Did they ever physically abuse you?

Shourd: No. No. I mean, it is all psychological. And it's just the hardest thing, of course, is being so alienated from your family. I begged and cried for a phone call and i didn't get it until i think the seventh month. I'm still unclear on the chronology. But, you know, by the time I got a phone call I lost hope that it was going to happen and so many ups and downs. You think it will be over and then goes on and on and on.

Chetry: More than a year following the story every step of the way and some viewers also were wondering how it all started. Can you just walk us through or just explain that day? You guys were hiking in Kurdistan and then everything changed in an instant.

Shourd: Yeah. My fiancee Shane Bauer and I have been fascinated by the region. We wanted to immerse ourselves in that part of the world to learn more about it and to be hopefully more of a bridge between the people in that region and the people in our country. So I taught in Damascus for a year and there's not a lot of green mountains in Damascus. It's a beautiful country.

Roberts: A lot of brown.

Shourd: Yeah. A lot of beautiful desert and craggy rocks and I had two friends that traveled in northern Iraq. It's not a war zone. Americans have not been hurt there. You know? Even while all of the violence was raging in the south. It wasn't happening in the north so it was an easy place. I only had a week off of work of my teaching job in Damascus so it was an easy, quick trip to some green mountains and we'd been assured by our research that it was safe and really nothing like this happened there before. Our story was completely unexpected and tragic. We did nothing wrong.

Chetry: Why didn't the Iranians believe you? I mean, they're accusing you of espionage-like charges. What was the point of that?

Shourd: I don't know if  I'll ever completely understand that but all I can say is we did nothing wrong. We meant no harm to the Iranian people. We did not intend to cross the border. It was unmarked. We were on a trail behind the tourist site. There were hundreds of families there - very popular spot by a waterfall and families picnic and I - I just think it's a huge misunderstanding more to do with the problems between the countries than with us as individuals.

Roberts: You said you got the idea, 'Wait a second. This is all political.'

Shourd: Yeah. Unfortunately, it's true. You know, I wouldn't be sitting here if there weren't countless people that believed in our innocence. I don't think there's a doubt in the world we didn't intend to go to Iran. We would never risk our safety in that way and put our families through this. You know?

Roberts: President Ahmadinejad is here this week and I know that you have wanted to try to get in touch with him. He was on with Larry King on Wednesday talking about whether or not Shane and Josh would get out. He said that's 'in the hands of the judge. I've made my appeal.' Do you think you will have a chance to meet with him?

Shourd: Yeah, well, I don't see why he wouldn't want to meet with us. I have no animosity towards him or the government. I want it to be resolved and I want it to be finished. And I think that it would be a really good opportunity to, you know, push this forward for us to meet each other.

Chetry: What would you say to him?

Shourd: I don't know if it's going to happen. I would just ask him to release my fiance and my friend for the same reasons he released me, you know? As a humanitarian gesture. This is not politics and governments and we don't deserve to suffer any longer and neither do our families.

Roberts: What do you think about the idea he fought for a prisoner swap? Would you support that?

Shourd: Well, you know, I'm not a politician. Honestly, this is not my area of expertise. I don't know how it should be resolved but it should be resolved and I want to continue to emphasize it's a humanitarian issue and I hope that it ends in a way that, you know, can move us forward.

Roberts: Yeah.

Shourd: Our country and Iran and create a better relationship between us.

Chetry: You know, in reading your accounts it was amazing that there were these small and few and far between moments of you that happened while you were in the prison. One was that Shane asked you to marry him there, right?

Shourd: Yeah.

Chetry: I notice you have a thread on your hand.

Shourd: Yeah.

Chetry: He made an engagement ring for you. Tell us about that.

Roberts: Hold it up. We'll get a shot.

Shourd: Oh, sure. Yeah. Shane's a romantic guy. It was just - you know, we see each other an hour a day outside and Josh stayed in the room so we could have some time alone and Shane said I have something to tell you. I said, I hope it's not bad because I'm having a really bad day and it was a beautiful moment.

Roberts: You were planning on asking him if he didn't ask you?

Shourd: Uh-huh. I was going to wait until after prison. He beat me to it. I'm glad because he said we'll be able to really believe in our future together and sustain us.

Roberts: I know you'll work hard to win their release and we'll keep following the story to the end. Great to see you this morning.

Shourd: Likewise.

Chetry: Best of luck. Such a strong person to be going through this and we wish this ends as you said very quickly. Thanks so much.

Shourd: Thank you.

Watch American Morning weekdays 6am to 9am ET. For the latest from American Morning click here.

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soundoff (324 Responses)
  1. Alert Sooner

    These interviews are ridiculous. She is not released from the prison. She is out on a bail and her BF and F are in the prison. On what basis do you expect her to be abrasive towards Iran and be truthful about her experience?

    September 25, 2010 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Lyndsay lohan buys her way out of Jail aagin, mariah Goes ot China inspite of being wanred to many times.

    oh but if you r rich and have big teats the rules do not apply to YOU.
    3 months now i have been oon c.n.n givng you all chnace to talk to me.
    all you did was waste my time and use what i said for political gain.
    Sarah, her mother and lawyer need to return to Iran.
    and im done talking to ANY of YOU.
    Fuk off and Die.

    September 25, 2010 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff

    I don't feel sorry for her or her friends. These are the same people who defend Iraq and protest their own gov. I am happy they had the oppertunity to see why so many of our troops die protecting their freedom. Mayby now they will appreciate their own country a little more. I wish more of these Berkeley Liberials would go on a hike in Iraq to get some real world education. I also don't buy her story.

    September 25, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      right now, america holds My M.I.A Army nurse and ex wives etc and children hostage.
      I have issued Warrants fo rthe arrest of ALL these war criminals in " My Countrie" .
      "they" do not know which All are " My Coutries.
      They and the jews now use Mariah to TRY and find out Which are my Countries..,

      September 25, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      Welcome Queen Rania and Jordan,
      We, Will Discuss Later, Money and Details. Inshallah.
      Also YOu brits?
      Once again YOU and I have a Truce Thanx to Jossies and Sir Branson.
      I have No Fight With You At This Point in Time.

      September 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      Sarah YOU and YOUR Mother Need to Return to Iran, Inshallah.
      As YOU See, " They " do not giv a Damn about YOU.

      September 25, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      Now, How Do I Say " Lets Make Another Deal, in Chinesse?
      Wrong Answer America.

      September 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      White House: Cleric Lawsuit Would Reveal 'State Secrets'
      Voice of America – ‎4 minutes ago‎ ,,,, ie: " Me ".

      September 25, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      All you care about Is Money.
      I pulled All MY Money, From Wells Fargo 2 days ago.
      now go fuk yer idiot selves some more,,,
      I am Busy.
      Queen Rania you got male.

      September 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      bruised-but-not-broken = ' Jossies " Song,

      September 25, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      As you see " Her Peers" Said Keep her. All They Care about is Who Paid the 500 grand.
      I do not care they are Jew, But I am reminded of Niel Berg or was it Burg?
      And Danny Pearl.
      What Time is it?

      September 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      I do not speak of matters of The Ummah or My Countries or Wars in front of the others.
      as You see All they do is waste my time and TRY ot use what I say.
      as they rob and murder and lie to you.

      September 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tom

    Teaching Muslims English in Syria, free-lance writing anti-American stories , lets hope she has cancer1

    September 25, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mehdi General Dr Bad


    Teaching Muslims English in Syria, free-lance writing anti-American stories , lets hope she has cancer1

    September 25, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    Where is Jill Carol is she married now?

    September 25, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      Sarah, Let Me Know what You chose to do,Inshallah. If You Do Not Decide I Will.

      September 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      They are stil iintercepting and blocking My Messages. They Want Me To Kill You.

      September 25, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad


      September 25, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      Now Sarah says, She was told it was becuse She was in solitaire confinement?
      Looks like they are Lying To Her.
      once agin.
      wrong answer.
      apeal = denied.

      September 25, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      c.n.n made this blog to distract me. they know i dont post in thier regular areas.
      your leaders dont do threads on palestine or iraq eather.
      only afghanistan.
      and as i have talked all they have done is use what i say fo rp olitical gain.
      while thye and you do all you can to stop me from even speaking.

      September 26, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      they now are blocking my messages about Mariah.

      September 26, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      Bother me no More.
      and YOU wil find out what I do when i do it, maybe.
      fuking filth.

      September 26, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      so much for "nice",,
      * Locks And Loads *

      ok, Who's Next, hmmm,,,
      Let's Dance.


      September 26, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Mehdi General Dr Bad

    As you see " Her Peers" Said Keep her. All They Care about is Who Paid the 500 grand.
    I do not care they are Jew, But I am reminded of Niel Berg or was it Burg?
    And Danny Pearl.
    What Time is it?

    September 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    Mehdi General Dr Bad

    I do not speak of matters of The Ummah or My Countries or Wars in front of the others.
    as You see All they do is waste my time and TRY ot use what I say.
    as they rob and murder and lie to you.

    September 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse

    September 26, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      Queen Rania has alwasy shown her love for Her Country, Her People and God.
      Her Husband was sentenced to Death Long ago.
      It is Because of Her , He even stil lives. I do not have to give ANY of you ANY Choices.

      September 26, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      Tell Sarah, JIll Carol Her Mother and Thier lawyers get on a fuking plane and go To Iran. Now.

      September 26, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      Welcome My New Queen Rania, and Jordan. Alhumdillah.
      ANYTHING, She Wants, God Willing, She Gets.
      I am done in here.
      w/sallam wr wb Allah hafiz.
      Sucks To Be You.

      September 26, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mohareb

    She is not going to say what she really feels, because it might hurt the chances of her friends being released. Her entire interview should be taken with a massive granule of salt.

    September 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      She needs to Return To Iran.

      Bother me no more.


      September 26, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad


      September 26, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      YOU Just INtercepted and blocked MY last message in Here c.n.n.
      You All Need To Go Find New Jobs.
      YOU have wasted all of MY Time and Words, YOU EVER WILL .


      September 26, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad


      September 26, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nekatseman

    Since is out on bail awaiting trail, when is the trail? If this is a political issue more so than a legal issue then to resolve it means that President Obama would need to engage Iran through diplomatic relations, possibly direct diplomatic relations. Meaning that we would have to re-establish an embassy in Iran.

    Or Shane and Josh may remain in Iran for awhile longer.

    September 27, 2010 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      once agin i waste my time give you talks and hear this womans case.
      once agin you use what i say and run out and spin it.
      once agin you and she thinks you wil do as you please.
      once agin you try to iinstigate.
      and once again others wil now Die becuse of YOU.
      Rot IN Hell.

      September 28, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. oscike-online

    Aprendi mucho

    September 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Sarah,Jill,Her Mother And HER Lawyer need to get on a plane and go back to Iran.
    and i am tired of medling a-rabs.

    September 30, 2010 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    4 more of MY american Troops Commited Suicide Just over the week end.
    while YOU LIE and play politics. and cover it up.
    That Makes YOU an accesory to the crimes.

    September 30, 2010 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    I looked in my bank account. no the Money you owe me is stil not in there.
    no, you stil keep me " isolated ". Lie. Murder. Steal From Your Own Children and Grand children.
    all YOU care about is money. so thats why you go after ours. and you are broke and in debt.jobless.homeless.
    oh but TELL me what a great fuking job you are doing.

    September 30, 2010 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
  13. natalie

    When will white people learn to stay their a$$es home.

    September 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • r smith

      because if you stay home all of the time you will end up with a big fat a*s*s* like natalie, that's why

      October 2, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. r smith

    anyone hiking on the iraqi-iranian border should do a year in jail just for being stupid.
    when these other two are freed, the three of them can go to mexico and start hiking all over again

    October 2, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Mehdi General Dr Bad

    NOw, Per Chance Have any of you seen Four Star General Deborah Christine D'Angelo From New Jersey?

    and how many more of you do I need to kill before YOU Care?


    October 3, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    October 3, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • America12848734

      I highly doubt you ever killed anyone.

      October 6, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      Of Course you have been to lazy to spend 5 minutes to check any fact.
      nor does anyone despute even one thing i say.
      but hey, no need ot let fact or reality get in the way now ,is there.
      And even as I send this message I am kiling you.
      BUt To Be Honest, you and your leaders do far better then I do at destroying you.
      you pile of human Filth.

      October 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
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