`Chance` 2 other US hikers may be freed: Iranian Prez

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, however, cautions issue was in the hands of the judge.

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2010, 12:51 PM IST

Washington: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said there was a chance that two American hikers still held in Iran could be freed, but cautioned it was in the hands of the judge.

The Iranian leader told CNN television on Wednesday that Sarah Shourd had been released last week "because of mercy, compassion, and as a humanitarian gesture”.

"As for the others, yes there is a chance. But the judge has to take care of the case," Ahmadinejad told CNN.

Shourd, 32, was released on Tuesday but her fiancé Shane Bauer and friend Josh Fattal remain jailed in Tehran after they were detained on July 31, 2009.

Shourd told a press conference on arriving back in the United States at the weekend that she felt "one-third free" after having to leave her two companions behind in Iran.

The hikers say they strayed by accident into Iran in July 2009 while hiking in the mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan. But Iranian authorities have alleged that they were spying.

PTI