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Iran to free American prisoner

Iran's envoy to the United Nations has confirmed that a female American held for more than a year will be released.

Iran had earlier announced that one of the three Americans captured by Iran in July 2009 would be released to mark the holidays at the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Bak Sahraei, second counsellor of the UN mission confirmed in an email that Sarah Shourd would be set free on Saturday.

Shourd, 31, her boyfriend Shane Bauer, 27 and their friend Josh Fattal, 27, have been held in Iran since July 2009, when they were arrested along the Iraqi border.

Iran has accused them of espionage; their families say that the three were hiking in Iraq's largely peaceful mountainous northern Kurdish region and that if they crossed the border, it was accidental.

Reporters were told by text message to come to the same hotel where the Americans' parents were allowed to meet them recently to witness the release.

"Offering congratulations on Eid al-Fitr," the message said referring to the holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. "The release of one of the detained Americans will be at Saturday, 9 am at the Estaghlal hotel."

It is common in the Islamic world to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday by showing clemency and releasing prisoners.

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