September 21st, 2011
05:28 PM ET

'Two years in prison is too long,' released hiker says

American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were released from an Iranian prison Wednesday and made their way to Oman.

The two Americans were released on bail of $500,000 each and their sentences were commuted, Iran's judiciary said, according to government-run Press TV.

Bauer and Fattal, both 29, were convicted last month of entering Iran illegally and spying for the United States, and each was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Follow the latest developments below:

[Updated at 5:28 p.m. ET] Released U.S. hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer made brief statements to assembled media after arriving in Oman.

"We are so happy we are free, and so relieved we are free," Fattal said. "Our deepest gratitude goes towards his majesty, Sultan Qaboos of Oman, for obtaining our release. We are sincerely grateful (to) the government of Oman for hosting us an our families."

Bauer said: "Two years in prison is too long, and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in American and Iran."

They departed after making the statements and took no questions.

[Updated at 4:28 p.m. ET] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the following statement regarding the hikers' release:

"I join President Obama in welcoming the decision made by Iranian authorities to release Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal from detention. After more than two years, they will finally be reunited with their friends and families.

"I am grateful for the efforts of all those who have worked for their release, in particular the Swiss Protecting Power in Tehran, the Omani government, the Iraqi government, and the many other world leaders who have raised their voices in support, as well as those inside Iran who pushed for justice."

[Updated at 3:43 p.m. ET] Family members of the two hikers held close onto each other as they walked off the tarmac at an Omani airport and into the terminal.

It is unclear whether the family members or the two men Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer will be holding a press conference to discuss what it was like to be reunited after the two men had been jailed for two years in Iran.

[Updated at 3:42 p.m. ET] Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, the American hikers who were jailed in Iran for two years, raced down the stairs of an Omani plane into the arms of their families.

Loud cheers erupted as the door of the plane opened. Media cameras surrounded the pair as they reunited for the first time with their families.

"It's a very, very emotional moment," CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom reported, noting that family members were crying when they first hugged the two men.

[Updated at 3:36 p.m. ET] The plane carrying the two American hikers released from Iran on Wednesday has landed in Oman.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom reported that the families of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer are waiting on the tarmac for them.

The family members are hugging, smiling, and waiving at the plane as they wait for the doors to open and get a peek of the family members they haven't seen or spoken to in two years.

[Updated at 3:33 p.m. ET] Josh Fattal’s uncle Fred Felleman, shortly before the plane landed in Oman, told CNN that he’s excited that the hikers are free. Asked whether he knew anything about Fattal’s plans, Felleman said he knew his nephew was studying for the GRE.

“He had the GRE test book, so he might be interested in graduate school,” Felleman said.

Shane Bauer’s brother-in-law, speaking to CNN from Duluth, Minnesota, said he is “so happy that it’s just finally going to be over.”

Nate Lindstrom said his wife, who is with her family in Oman, called him this morning to tell him that the release might come today.

“I actually found out at about 4 a.m. this morning. My wife called me and said, ‘I think something’s going to happen today, so be prepared,’” Lindstrom said.

“It’s been really long and really frustrating, but we never gave up hope that it was going to end,” he added.

[Updated at 2:59 p.m. ET] Freed hiker Josh Fattal spoke with his brother, Alex, by phone after the release, according to a source familiar with the hikers’ release.

Family members of both Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer are on their way to the airport in Muscat, Oman. It’s not clear whether Bauer was able to speak with his parents or his fiancée, Sarah Shourd, according to the source.

The families’ spokeswoman Samantha Topping declined to confirm the report. She did say Josh Fattal's brother "sounded great and so did Cindy (Shane’s mother)."

The family has no details yet about how long everyone will stay in Oman before heading to the U.S.

[Updated at 2:04 p.m. ET] The relatives of the two hikers released from Iran on Wednesday are on their way to an airport in Oman to greet them, a spokeswoman for the group says.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were released from an Iranian prison and have taken off from Tehran, bound for Oman, their lawyer and the Swiss ambassador to Tehran said previously.

[Updated at 1:43 p.m. ET] The families of the two hikers released from Iran on Wednesday issued the following statement after the pair had left Tehran:

"Today can only be described as the best day of our lives.  We have waited for nearly 26 months for this moment and the joy and relief we feel at Shane and Josh's long-awaited freedom knows no bounds.  We now all want nothing more than to wrap Shane and Josh in our arms, catch up on two lost years and make a new beginning, for them and for all of us.  For now, we especially would like to thank His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman and his envoy Dr. Salem Al Ismaily; our lawyer, Mr. Masoud Shafii; and the Swiss Ambassador to Iran, Livia Leu Agosti, and her colleagues, for working to make today a reality.  At the same time, our deep gratitude extends to many, many others, from governments, institutions and noted campaigners to tens of thousands of people around the world.  Their support for Shane, Josh, Sarah and our families has sustained us and comforted us throughout this time.  Our appreciation for the warmth and love of our fellow human beings is unending and we know that Shane and Josh will always be grateful."

[Updated at 1:31 p.m. ET] Two American hikers freed Wednesday from an Iranian prison have taken off from Tehran bound for Oman, their lawyer and the Swiss ambassador to Tehran told CNN.

The families of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal - as well as fellow hiker Sarah Shourd, who was freed last year on medical grounds and is Bauer's fiancee - are waiting to meet them in Oman.

[Updated at 12:17 p.m. ET] A convoy of cars carrying the released American hikers has just arrived at Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport, CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr reports. That contradicts an earlier report from Iran's state-run IRNA news agency that the hikers' plane had departed for Oman.

[Updated at 11:42 a.m. ET] An airplane carrying American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer has left Tehran, the country's state-run IRNA news agency reports. The plane's destination is Muscat, Oman.

[Updated at 10:44 a.m. ET] The government of Oman says American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer have been turned over to the custody of Omani officials and are on their way to the Arabian sultanate.

"You can state officially now that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has handled Shane and Josh to the custody of Dr. Salem Al Ismaily, the envoy of  His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Sultan of Oman, a country that enjoys excellent relationships with both the IRI and the USA. Dr. Al Ismaily with the hikers are now on their way to Muscat where they will spend a couple of days before heading home,” a statement from Oman's envoy in Iran said.

Officials said the hikers are waiting at an Iranian airport for their flight to Oman.

[Updated at 10:08 a.m. ET] Two American hikers have been turned over to the custody of an Omani official, a senior U.S. official tells CNN.

[Updated at 9:58 a.m. ET] Two Omani cars that entered the Evin Prison to pick up the two American hikers have left with a police escort as well as cars carrying people from the Swiss embassy, CNN's Shirzad Bozogmehr reported.

Bozogmehr reported that it is believed the hikers are in that convoy, though nobody was able to see them inside the car.

[Updated at 9:19 a.m. ET] It's likely that two American hikers being released from an Iranian prison will to go to a third country, possibly Oman, upon their release, CNN's Zain Verjee reports. One official told CNN that Oman was on alert to pick up the two Americans and the families have been there for a while. They would likely get medical checkups in Oman and get back to the U.S. as soon as possible, Verjee reported.

[Updated at 9:09 a.m. ET] Masoud Shafiee, lawyer for American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, says outside Tehran's Evin Prison, "In four or five minutes they will be released."

"As soon as they are in the car hopefully we can get a word out of them before we leave," the lawyer said. He could not confirm where the hikers would go upon their release.

[Updated at 8:55a.m. ET] American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer have not yet been seen leaving Tehran's Evin Prison, but their attorney, Masoud Shafiee, went into the facility earlier in the day with paperwork to show that the $500,000 bail had been paid for each of them.

[Updated at 8:37 a.m. ET] Iran's state-run Press TV reports that American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer have been released.

Press TV reported the following on its website: "Branch 36 of Tehran's Appeals Court has agreed to commuted the detention sentences of the two US nationals to release on a bail of USD500,000, a statement released by Iran's Judiciary said on Wednesday."

[Updated at 7:45 a.m. ET] American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were freed from prison in Iran on Wednesday, a U.S. official said, more than two years after they were arrested as spies.

[Updated at 7:21 a.m. ET] The attorney for the U.S. hikers has entered Tehran’s Evin prison, from which the hikers are expected to be released today. The lawyer entered the main building accompanied by officials from the Swiss and Omani embassies. Oman has helped in negotiations to free the hikers.

[Updated at 6:21 a.m. ET] Swiss Ambassador in Iran Livia Leu Agosti told CNN she had not been officially informed of the pending release of two U.S. hikers, but would undertake all duties normally handled by American officials in such circumstances. Switzerland handles United States interests in Tehran because there is no American embassy there.

[Updated at 5:27 a.m. ET] Iran's semi-official FARS news agency says the two American hikers will be handed over to officials from the Swiss Embassy at 3 p.m. local (6:30 a.m. ET) Wednesday.

[Updated at 5:15 a.m. ET] A lawyer for two Americans imprisoned as spies in Iran for more than two years expects to start paperwork for their release Wednesday, he told CNN.

A second judge signed bail paperwork for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, Masoud Shafiee said, leaving only minor banking details to be sorted out.

Fattal and Bauer were arrested along with a third hiker, Sarah Shourd, in July 2009 after apparently straying over an unmarked border between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran. Shourd was freed earlier on medical grounds.

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soundoff (1,018 Responses)
  1. Don

    Congratulations!

    September 21, 2011 at 5:16 am | Report abuse |
    • penisia

      lock them back up!

      September 21, 2011 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
    • gdouglaso

      I kind of expect to eventually read, " asked what they would do on their release, the two hikers indicated they have always been fascinated with the wilderness of North Korea." Glad they are free...but please people...use your brains.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
    • San

      Glad this ordeal is over for them. It must have been frightening to think they could be killed at any time.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • USA rocks!

      Welcome back, men. Well done, Oman!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Gem

      If it was U.S. fed. money to get them out - they should have to work to earn it back. That's a lot of money for a stupid choice on their part.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TZ

    Great news to hear.they should of been released yrs ago.the political tensions between Iran and the U.S stood in the way.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. Anna

    Best news of the day!!!
    So happy for them and their families!.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
    • USA rocks!

      Ditto. Thanks, Oman.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  4. ipmutt

    Why has Obama done nothing all these years? THree Americans held over two years and he does nothing. Just like Jimmy Carter. What a wimp.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Kro

      Why was it his place to do something? They broke the law in Iran and got off easy.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Since when are presidents expected to free those who go on vacation and cross borders illegally? There must have been more involved, not just hiking.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • ian

      because they got what they asked for. why should america compromise its foreign policy for a few idiots like this? i guess u must love iran! good 4 u!
      i hope iran changes its mind and keeps them.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • falconco

      The US isn't supposed to pay ransom, that's why it's called "bail money" These 3 were living in Damascus, Syria before they decided to go hiking. Maybe they should go back there.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alex

    Im sick of americans picking up the bill for these hikers that know the risks of hiking the border there. This isnt the first time it's happened you retards.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Crazy Lisa

      Alex, you are misinformed. The ransom money was raised from private sources. Don't worry, not a penny came from your unpatriotic pocket.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Ro

      Set your mind at ease. You didn't pay....The couintry Oman paid their release. Now go by yourself some Sonic Yee haw

      September 21, 2011 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Ro

      Set your mind at ease. You didn't pay....The country Oman paid their release. Now go by yourself some Sonic Yee haw

      September 21, 2011 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Unpatriotic pocket? I'm a soldier at Fort Bragg, NC first off so don't go there. Second our goverment did pay for this just like we always do. Why is it that when someone knows they shouldnt do something we end up having to bail them out. Just like when theres a flood or something and theretold to get out now. Then we have to rick lives saving there stupid butt. These hikers knew good and well what they were risking. Any hiker going into these areas to hike knows it. We constantly have to bail out these retards.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Right on Alex. I've been thinking the same thing. It's just not the fact that a bail (ransom?) had to be paid, it's the time and effort of our gov't, the strain on the families and the fact that it gives Iran the upper hand. There are plenty of places to hike in the world without skirting one of the most dangerous borders in the world. I hate the fact that you called them retards, that's a terrible thing to call someone, but I will say that they are stupid idiots.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      What is it these days that the less intelligent American population? Brainwashed so much that they now call smarter, more logical thinking Americans, unpatriotic? Crazy Lisa, you should pick up a book sometime, stimulate those brain cells!

      September 21, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Anton

      I agree with you Alex 100%

      September 21, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • San

      You may not be unpatriotic, but calling people "retards" is ignorant. You may be a soldier but you are surely an ignorant one.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • ian

      just because someone doesnt agree with you, lisa, doesnt mean they are unpatriotic. thats what's wrong with america today. just because someone doesnt agree with you doesnt make them evil and unpatriotic.
      sadly you and your ilk have to say, 'you & i disagree. and if you dont agree with me, you are evil and unamerican.'
      in short, you sould like a typical republican....

      September 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. chillipepper

    These people are crazy liberals no doubt that probably didn't believe the American press that Iran was dangerous. You either have a death wish or very ignorant to hike on the boarder of Iran. Thats why Iran thought they must be spies. Nobody could be that dumb to take such a risk unless they were spies. Dumb Dimwit liberals IMO

    September 21, 2011 at 5:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Hung Well

      So I take it you side with the Iranians then?

      September 21, 2011 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Kro

      Iran is one of the safest countries there. That's, of course, if you enter LEGALLY. I go there all the time. Nice people and smart too. They are a nation state of Persians. So of course they are proud, zealous, and protective of their society. We could actually learn from them.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Before calling people dim whits, you should learn how to spell border, it's not "boarder".

      September 21, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • caw

      Kro – question for you. Say I enter Iran legally and then shout out how much Islam as well as all religions suck... How safe would it be?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. Name*eileen

    they don't look too good. It must have been hell there. They knew the risks I suppose. welcome home boyz:-D

    September 21, 2011 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. Darkwalker22

    Yeah Obama should have justbstarted bombing sht like Bush. That seems to always bring quick results and stable oil prices. The presidents role is to fire from the hip, disreguard all complicating factors and baby sit all 300 million retards in this county like Ipmutt and Crazy lisa

    September 21, 2011 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    Welcome home, guys.

    September 21, 2011 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. Rustyy

    What should they do for their next vacation?
    How about windsurfing in Somalia or hang gliding in North Korea?

    September 21, 2011 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. Banasy Sssuuuucccckkkkssss

    Buh bye!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. WildTravelah

    Personally I prefer irrigation...

    Of the colonic variety.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
  13. Wheate

    You're joking right? This is like skiers who get lost when they go out of bounds only to be rescued once they've put the lives of search and rescue officials at risk unnecessarily. You must have the mind capacity of arctic lichen to think hiking in or near Iran – with an American passport – is a good idea. Did I hear darwin knocking on the door......?

    September 21, 2011 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
  14. Michael

    Actually their bail money was paid by the country of Oman.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  15. jlf

    i'll believe it when they are on American soil !!!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
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