WASHINGTON (AFP) -- Two of the U.S. hikers imprisoned in Iran on spying charges after straying across the border in July 2009 are set to marry over the weekend, a lawyer and friend of the couple said Friday.
Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd -- who became engaged during their time in captivity, with a ring Bauer made from the threads of his shirt -- plan to tie the knot on Saturday at an undisclosed location in California.
The two will marry in a private ceremony with only friends and family present, according to a statement sent by attorney Ben Rosenfeld, a San Francisco attorney who is Shourd‘s lawyer and a friend of the couple.
“Now that this day has come, all I can do is close my eyes and fill with gratitude, for our freedom, for the love of so many generous people around the world, and for the very soil under my feet,” Shourd said in the statement.
“I want the same freedom for everyone held unjustly and under barbaric conditions, in Iran and throughout the world,” she said.
Bauer, Shourd and Josh Fattal were arrested near Iran’s mountainous border with Iraq on July 31, 2009. All three maintained they were innocent of spying and had simply strayed across the border into the Islamic republic.
Iran released Shourd, a teacher, writer and women‘s rights activist, after 14 months in captivity on humanitarian grounds. Fattal and Bauer were held until September 2011.
Bauer, a fluent Arabic-speaking freelance journalist, said that becoming engaged to Shourd while in captivity “allowed me to dream of a future that was not only secure, but also beautiful.
”After she was released, I often thought of her as a hero, fighting tirelessly for Josh and I. Our wedding is also a victory,“ he said.
Fattal will be Bauer’s best man.
”The day Shane proposed to Sarah in prison gave us all hope for the future,“ Fattal said. ”Shane and Sarah are my best friends. Our bonds are unbreakable.“
The couple will not be available for interviews, according to the statement.
Their arrests angered Washington, which has deep differences with Tehran over its controversial nuclear program, its refusal to recognize Israel and its support for militant groups in the Middle East.