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Freed American hiker arrives on U.S. soil

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Shourd makes first public statement
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Freed hiker arrives in Washington, D.C., from Oman, spokeswoman says
  • Sarah Shourd says she will always associate Oman with freedom
  • She spoke with reporters before starting her journey back to America
  • She said she hopes her fiance and friend will be freed soon

(CNN) -- Sarah Shourd, the American released from Iran after more than a year in detention, arrived in the United States on Sunday, according to a spokeswoman.

Samantha Topping, who has spoken to the media on the behalf of the families of Shourd and two other Americans held in Iran, said Shourd and her mother arrived at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C.

Before beginning her journey home, Shourd on Saturday thanked Oman for securing her release and said that nation would forever occupy a special niche in her heart as the place where she regained her freedom.

"I will always associate your country with the first breath of my freedom," she told reporters at Muscat International Airport. "The sweet smell of sandalwood. Standing by the ocean and listening to the waves."

Looking more relaxed and with a tinge of sun on her face, Shourd spoke briefly before leaving with her mother and uncle for Dubai, from where she will board a flight back to the United States. She is expected to return to America sometime Sunday.

She did not talk about her captivity. Instead, she said she took a walk on the beach and visited the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which she called a peaceful and powerful place of worship.

She said she hoped to show the mosque soon to her fiance, Shane Bauer, and her friend Josh Fattal, still jailed in Tehran.

She described her stay in Oman as unfortunately short, perhaps reflecting conflicted emotions about leaving Bauer and Fattal behind in the Middle East as she makes her way home.

"I thank the good people of Oman for your support and ask you to please, please extend your prayers to my fiance, Shane, and my friend Josh."

"Inshallah," she said, using the Arabic word that means God willing, "they will soon be free."

Shourd arrived Tuesday in Oman on a chartered flight from Tehran. Her bail was posted by Omani sources, a senior Obama administration official said.

Shourd, 32, Bauer, 28, and Fattal, 28, were detained In July 2009 after they allegedly strayed across an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region.

Iran accused the three of spying, a charge the United States and the hikers have denied.

Iranian authorities have said Bauer and Fattal will remain in jail until their trial. The official Islamic Republic News Agency reported that their detention has been extended by two months.

A judge allowed Shourd to be released on bail because of her medical condition, IRNA said. Shourd had a pre-existing gynecological problem, and her family says she now also has a lump in her breast, according to Masoud Shafii, her lawyer in Iran.

CNN's Nic Robertson contributed to this report.

 
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