TEHRAN, Iran — American Sarah Shourd exchanged a cell in Teheran's Evin Prison for a private jet crossing the Persian Gulf on Tuesday, after an apparent diplomatic deal to cover a $500,000 bail and secure a release that seemed in jeopardy from the start.
Shourd was met by her mother and US diplomats at a royal airfield in the capital of Oman, which US officials said played a critical role in organizing the bail payment and assuring it did not violate American economic sanctions on Iran.
Shourd stepped off the private Omani jet and into the arms of her mother in their first embrace since a brief visit in May overseen by Iranian authorities — and her first day of freedom in more than 13 months. Shourd smiled broadly as they strolled arm-in-arm through the heat of the late summer night along the Gulf of Oman.
"I'm grateful and I'm very humbled by this moment," she said before boarding the plane in Teheran for the two-hour flight to Oman.