US hiker Sarah Shourd, freed on bail last year, has been summoned for trial in Iran along with her two American friends who remain in custody, the prosecutor general said today.
“Sarah Shourd, one of the three Americans accused and who was released on bail, has been summoned to be present at the February 6 trial,” Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
Iran has set February 6 as the trial date for the three US hikers charged with espionage after they reportedly entered the Islamic republic from northern Iraq.
Ms Shourd, her fiance Shane Bauer and fellow hiker Josh Fattal maintain they strayed across the unmarked border with Iraq innocently when they were detained on July 31, 2009 by Iranian authorities.
Their trial comes at a time when anti-American rhetoric is at fever pitch as Iran marks the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the US-backed shah’s regime.
Ms Shourd returned to the United States in September after her release on bail of around $US500,000 following intense mediation by the Swiss embassy and reportedly by the Omani government.
State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said today that he would “defer to Sarah Shourd” when asked if she would be returning to Iran for the trial, according to a report from ABC News.
In a September 2010 interview with ABC News, Ms Shourd said she would not rule out returning to Iran if she could prove her innocence.
“I hope that that doesn’t have to happen,” she said. “If that’s what it takes to prove that we committed no crime and meant no harm and are absolutely innocent, than I’d be willing to do it.”
A spokesperson for Ms Shourd’s family would not comment on her plans. Family members of the other hikers also refused to comment, according to ABC News.
The Swiss embassy in Tehran manages US interests as Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations for the past three decades.