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After Sarah Shourd's release, questions over the other US hikers

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Sultan al-Hasani/AP

(Read caption) Sarah Shourd, right, embraces her mother Nora Shourd, left, on Sarah Shourd's arrival at the royal airport in Muscat, Oman, Tuesday, Sept. 14.

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Sarah Shourd ended 13 months in detention in Iran's notorious Evin Prison Tuesday and today was with her mother in Oman awaiting a flight to take her back to the US.

But the fate of the two other US hikers seized along with Ms. Shourd near the Iraqi-Iranian border in July 2009 remains uncertain.

The Twitter feed of State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley issued a challenge to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shortly after the release, with a post that said: "President Ahmadinejad, want to show goodwill to the American people? Bring Shane Bauer & Josh Fattal home next week when you visit the UN."

But the Shourd case demonstrates that the decision is far from Mr. Ahmadinejad's alone.

The on-again, off-again nature of her release – Ahmadinejad's announcement, followed by a demand for "bail" that was viewed internationally as a ransom request, and the release two days later by the judiciary, not the president – spotlighted the divisions between Ahmadinejad and other members of the conservative political and religious establishment, as the Monitor's Scott Peterson reported Tuesday.

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