Sarah Shourd

Article excerpt

Byline: Ramin Setoodeh

She spent 410 days in an Iranian prison for crossing an unmarked border, and she's not free yet.

I talked to your mom while you were in prison. Is it true the other prisoners serenaded you with Celine Dion?

Yeah. Actually, I'm not sure if it's Celine Dion. Do you know that song "You Are Not Alone"?

That's Michael Jackson--he's very big in Iran.

That's what they were singing. There were different prisoners who tried to reach out to me. A lot of time the women would shout things in the hallway: "I love you, Sarah! I hope you are freed."

How big was your cell?

It was 12 by 9 feet. It was very cramped. I kept my room really clean because I was worried about cockroaches. Shane [Bauer, her fiance] and Josh [Fattal, the other hiker captured with them] had them in their room.

Did you have a bathroom?

There's a bell you have to ring. The guard comes and opens the door. Sometimes you have to wait 45 minutes. I had to be blindfolded to walk 10 to 15 feet down the hall.

What kind of food were you eating?

The food was really repetitious. In the morning, it was bread and cheese and sometimes fruit. In the afternoon, it's rice and some kind of meat.

Could you keep track of the days?

The last eight or nine months I had a television. And the television had time on it. It was mostly in Farsi, but some of the shows had subtitles.

Did they take away your watch?

Oh, yeah. When they put you in the cell they take everything, even your underclothes. Everything has to be prison-issued. They gave us these really absurd T shirts. My T shirt said HAPPY GIRL in English.

Did you have any books?

I told the investigators that when Malcolm X was in prison, he had a dictionary. …