Iran presses US as freed American returns

President Ahmadinejad urges US to free 8 Iranians as "humanitarian gesture".

New York: Iran has urged the United States to free eight Iranians as a "humanitarian gesture”, while freed American hiker Sarah Shourd made an emotional plea for the release of two compatriots.

"Iran was the country that released Sarah. We haven`t even received a note from the United States on that," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad complained in an interview with ABC`s `This Week`, calling Shourd`s release "a huge humanitarian act”.

"It would not be misplaced to ask that the US government should take a humanitarian gesture to release the Iranians who were illegally arrested and detained here in the United States."

Ahmadinejad did not elaborate on the identity of the Iranians he said were being held by the United States.

But in comments to Iranian state television on Friday, he referred to "several Iranians it (the United States) has caught in Thailand, Georgia and elsewhere, or inside the US for exporting certain goods."

Shourd, 32, arrived at Dulles International Airport outside Washington days after being released on USD 500,000 bail by Iran, which is still holding two other US hikers more than a year after they were detained along with Shourd.

She later drove up to New York, after Ahmadinejad arrived there ahead of the United Nations General Assembly.

Shourd told reporters she was crushed not to be sharing her freedom with her fiancé Shane Bauer and friend Josh Fattal.

Bureau Report