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Ahmadinejad hopes for U.S. gesture after Shourd's unilateral release

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Iran: 'No expectations' after release
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "We have no expectations," Ahmadinejad tells IRINN
  • "The expectation is that you would release them"
  • Clinton calls for release of Bauer and Fattal

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Iran's release this week of American hiker Sarah Shourd was a unilateral gesture made without any promise of a quid pro quo, but that doesn't mean Iranian officials wouldn't appreciate a similar act from the United States, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told state-run television Friday.

"We have no expectations," he told IRINN TV. "But naturally, morally, the expectation would be that the U.S. government would take a step to release a number of Iranians that they took from other countries."

Ahmadinejad said the United States is holding a number of Iranians. "The expectation is that you would release them," he said, noting that Iran has provided the United States with a list of those Iranians imprisoned in the United States.

"They need to be freed and sent back to their families," he said.

Shourd and her mother, Nora, are planning to address reporters Sunday afternoon in New York City, though they are not expected to respond to questions.

During the 410 days that Shourd was held in Iran, "she never complained that the conditions were hard on her," Ahmadinejad said. He said Iran provided all three Americans with "every comfort we could."

Shourd, 32, was singled out for release because of her gender, he said. "Iranians, because of our Islamic culture and our Iranian culture, have a very special respect for women," he said. "We just dignify women, so the system decided that she should be released."

Video: Shourd makes first public statement
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Since Shourd's release, U.S. authorities have pushed for Iran to release Shourd's fiance Shane Bauer, 28, and their friend, Josh Fattal, Ahmadinejad said. The three were arrested in July 2009 after allegedly straying across the border into Iraq. The Iranians have accused the three of spying; they have denied the accusation.

"It's the superpower mentality," he said about the U.S. plea for the two others' release. "But they were tactless."

He told MSNBC on Thursday that he would let the judge and the court decide the two Americans' case. "If they had not violated our border, they would have been at their homes for over a year," he said.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed relief over Shourd's release, but said she would continue to press for the release of Bauer and Fattal. "It would be a very significant humanitarian gesture for the Iranians to release them as well," she told reporters.