Sarah Shourd, one of three hikers who was arrested by Iranian border guards in July 2009 while hiking through northern Iraq and charged with spying, was finally freed in September after 410 days in solitary confinement, and she wrote her first op-ed piece about her ordeal for CNN.com. Highlights:

Since my release, many people have wondered why I have not been more condemning of the country that kept me in solitary confinement for 410 days. They have wanted to know why I speak with such conviction about the need for an improved Iranian-U.S. relationship and highlight my love for the Middle East and respect for Muslim culture.

At a very personal level, I never would have been kept in jail for 14 months if Iran and the United States had a better relationship. My fiancé, Shane Bauer, and our close friend, Josh Fattal, would not still be in prison in Iran today on the baseless charge of espionage.

But there is more to my conviction than the merely personal. I don’t believe that the animosity between Iran and the United States is an insuperable obstacle; it’s the responsibility of all governments to engage diplomatically, regardless of their differences, and when they can’t or don’t, it is their people who suffer the most.