Tehrani shakedown

Iran Willing to Release American Hiker on Bail


After a power struggle within Iran's conservative leadership put her freedom in doubt, an American woman arrested more than a year ago along the Iraq border is on the verge of heading home. Her two companions, however, could be on their way to spy trials.

Sarah Shourd could be released in the ''next two or three days'' -- or even sooner -- after $500,000 bail is paid, said Masoud Shafiei, the Iranian lawyer for Shourd and the other detained Americans, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had personally promised Shourd's release on Friday as a sign of Islamic compassion at the end of the holy month of Ramadan but was quickly slammed down by the judiciary -- which turned around Sunday and set its own ground rules, including the bail amount. Swiss diplomats, who represent U.S. interests in Iran because the two countries do not have direct diplomatic relations, were making arrangements to post bail.

Comment: Only good news is that perhaps Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's authority is being challenged.

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