Freed hiker: Guard led 3 across border

Nov. 1, 2010 at 10:42 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Three U.S. hikers accused by Iran of spying crossed from Iraq into Iran only because a guard motioned for them to approach, freed hiker Sarah Shourd said.

Shourd, who was released in September after spending nearly 14 months in Tehran's Evin prison, contacted The New York Times to offer her account about what happened when the three were captured.

In an interview published Monday, Shourd said she wanted to correct the false impression in a classified U.S. military report posted last week by WikiLeaks, and in U.S. and British news reports, that the hikers were detained inside Iraq and forced across the border.

The two other hikers -- Shourd's fiance Shane Bauer and friend Joshua Fattal -- are to go on trial in Iran Saturday.

Shourd said the three were approached by an armed border guard who motioned to them.

"He pointed to the ground and said 'Iran' and pointed to the trail we had been on before he waved to us, then said 'Iraq,'" Shourd told the Times. "We did not actually enter Iran until he gestured to us. We were confused and worried and wanted to go back."

Besides saying the hikers were captured in Iraq, the military report said, "The lack of coordination on the part of these hikers, particularly after being forewarned, indicates an intent to agitate and create publicity regarding international policies on Iran."

Shourd countered that the three didn't know they were near the border and hadn't been warned.

"Those claims are illogical and unsubstantiated. It is ridiculous to claim that mountain climbers would be agitating along a border," she said.

The State Department never hinted of the version WikiLeaks published, she said.

State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told the Times: "We don't know whether they had two feet on one side or the other or one foot on each. All we know is Iran has held them far too long."

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