An American woman released from Iran after more than 13 months in custody began her journey back to the United States on Saturday after asking her supporters to "extend your prayers" to her fiance and another American man who remain in Tehran accused of spying.
In a brief statement, Sarah Shourd thanked Oman for mediating the $500,000 bail that led to her freedom earlier this week. But she made no mention of her ordeal inside Tehran's notorious Evin Prison or any health problems — which her mother has said include a breast lump and precancerous cervical cells.
"Please, please extend your prayers" to the other two Americans still held — her fiance Shane Bauer and their friend Josh Fattal — she said at Oman's international airport before boarding an Oman Air flight on the first leg of her trip home accompanied by her mother Nora and an uncle.
She was next scheduled to appear at a news conference in New York on Sunday timed to coincide with the arrival of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend the U.N. General Assembly.
Shourd, 32, appeared in good spirits and less gaunt than when she stepped off a private Omani jet late Tuesday after her release from Iran. She thanked Omani officials for playing an intermediary role between Iran and the United States for her release.
"I'll always associate your country with the first breath of my freedom, the sweet smell of sandalwood and a chance to stand by the ocean listening to the waves," she said, wearing long-sleeve black T-shirt covered by a white top and white sneakers.
The three Americans were detained in July 2009 along the Iraqi border. Iran has issued espionage-related indictments, which could bring trials for the two men and proceedings in absentia for Shourd. Their families say that if they crossed the border, they did not unintentionally.