Who Paid Sarah Shourd's $500,000 Iranian Bail Money?

sarah shroud.jpg
How much does it cost to get out of the slimy grip of a dictatorial government? Try 500 G's. And that doesn't even get her friends off the hook! But the question remains: Who paid it?

Yes, Sarah Shourd -- one of three American hikers who've been imprisoned in Iran for the last 14 months since being captured and accused of espionage by Tehran -- has now been plucked from the country by...well, nobody knows. Our government didn't put up the bail for her release, priced at $500,000. Shourd's family at one point asked the Iranian government to tone down the bail money, and that didn't work. Via Yahoo:

A U.S. official said neither the U.S. government nor the families of the hikers had paid the bail, but could not say who else might have paid it.

Her friends who got busted with her, Shane Bauer and Josh Fatta, aren't as lucky as she was, as money isn't exactly being forked over for these guys, nor is the opportunity to leave. Obama's statement:

"I am very pleased that Sarah Shourd has been released by the Iranian government, and will soon be united with her family," Obama said in a statement. "All Americans join with her courageous mother and family in celebrating her long-awaited return home."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

I welcome Sarah Shourd's release from detention in Iran, and am pleased that she will soon be reunited with her family. I appreciate the efforts of all those who have worked for her release, in particular the Swiss Protecting Power in Tehran, the Omani Government, and the many other world leaders who have raised this case and the cases of other detained or missing American citizens. Sarah's fiancé Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and other U.S. citizens remain detained or missing in Iran. We urge Iranian authorities to extend the same consideration to them by resolving their cases without delay and allowing them to immediately return to their families.

Anybody have any ideas on who it might be? Someone's owed a big thank you card.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]

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