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Jailed hiker’s mother requests release

“Sarah, Shane, and Josh are good people,’’ Nora Shourd said in the video, adding they meant no harm or disrespect. “Sarah, Shane, and Josh are good people,’’ Nora Shourd said in the video, adding they meant no harm or disrespect.
Associated Press / December 19, 2009

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MINNEAPOLIS - Wearing a headscarf, the mother of one of three American hikers jailed in Iran appealed yesterday in a new video to the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader to release her daughter and her friends for the holidays.

It’s been almost five months since the three were taken captive in Iran for allegedly straying across the country’s border and almost two months since their families have had any word on their condition.

“Sarah, Shane, and Josh are good people,’’ Nora Shourd of Oakland, Calif., said in the video posted on a website dedicated to freeing the three. “They meant no harm to the Islamic Republic of Iran and respect your ancient and noble civilization.’’

The families previously have pleaded for their release to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but yesterday’s video was the first public outreach to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is Iran’s highest-ranking political and religious authority.

The release of the video coincided with the start of Muharram, the first month of the Muslim calendar. The month is especially important for Shi’ites, who stage processions to mourn the seventh-century death of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson - an event that led to the split in Islam between the Shi’ite and Sunni sects. Iran is predominantly Shi’ite.

Sarah Shourd, 31, along with Shane Bauer, 27, and Josh Fattal, 27 had been trekking in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region when they accidentally crossed the border, according to their relatives.