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.

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[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.

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[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. aNN

    now keep your dumb azzes out of trouble. Idiots!

    September 21, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick F

      Personally I would have left their asses to rot in jail. Anyone stupid enough to go traipsing around the Iranian border is only asking for trouble. Just like those idiots a few years ago that got caught in North Korea. Leave them to think long and hard about being an idiot the next time.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. bob

    I agree with the last statement, "hey let's go to a war-torn country and illegaly cross the boarder to see the sand, "what could possibly go wrong????" idiotzzz.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • cuace

      Exactly Bob. All of this was their fault. Whether they crossed the border or not. They decided to go on 'vacation' along the border with a terrorist nation. What did they think would happen?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • mother of four

      Bob–Perhaps you should research this situation before making uninformed comments. Two of these three people were living in Syria. The woman was an ESL teacher working for a charity organization. Her husband was a writer and free lance journalist. The young man with them was also an educator who worked with a sustainable living organization. He was visiting. These three knew the country well.

      Iraq is sizable (roughly the size of California–and is the 58th largest country in the world) . Believe it or not, not all of it is at war. Northern Iraq, also known as Kurdistan is actually part of Iraq in name only. In that part of the world Kurdistan is a known tourist destination (in fact, the area is actually booming). The area is peaceful, democratic, and well-policed. Tourists travel there by the thousands.

      They were not the only hikers in the area that day and it has been reported that other hikers saw the guards who arrested them and have stated that those guards tried to wave the three over and, when they refused, crossed the border and arrested them. Since the hikers were arrested, these guards themselves have been sent to prison for smuggling, kidnapping, and murder. Chances are very good these guards spotted these three and figured they'd get a big reward for bringing three "spies" in.

      So there you go–stuff you would have known if you'd looked it up yourself.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dribble

    Henk in Colorado:
    Now THAT'S funny!

    September 21, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  4. bryan braford

    let me get this straight. people actually think we take very american looking people, have them walk across the iranian border, and they work for th cia. ah, no have people actually experienced anything near there? this actually pretty funny.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  5. Bord Erpatrol

    One small step for Humanity. One Giant Leap towards the Darwin Award (McArthur Genius Awards already given this year, sorry). Grant them both Tenure at UC Berkeley immediately.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. Frank Garrett

    What's next, North Korea? How about Afghanistan, they shoot anyone who tries to enter illegally.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. simin

    don't bad mouth Iranians any more,what do you do with illegal arrive es?

    September 21, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • clay

      Here in Texas we give them jobs mowing the grass.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. bozon

    3 fools walking in disneyland discover the world doesn't play fair!! Now after these two have had Jamil servicing them for 2 years, they'll be walking like a duck.. fools all..

    September 21, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. Aja

    HAS FOXNEWS BEEN HACKED AGAIN? It sure looks that way! ROFL!!!!!! I just went to the foxnews website and ohhhhhhh boy!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. cuace

    The one question that I have yet to see an answer for is, where did the money for their bail come from?
    Is it taxpayer dollars being paid to a terrorist nation? And I thought it was generally the position of the U.S. to not negotiate with terrorists. Those hikers put themselves purposely in harm's way and now the give that nutcase Ahmadinejad leverage over us because of it? They should have left them over there as a warning to other Americans to stay away from terrorists. They should consider themselves lucky to only be in jail and not have their heads cut off with a dull blade like terrorists did to Nick Berg.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. liqmaticus

    Time for some more shock and awe.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. i'm goin' to disneyworld

    and then for a nice hike along the N/S Korean border

    September 21, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. UglyTruth

    Dumb hikers:
    Unfortunate they were freed.

    Now there will be interviews.
    Smiles.
    A book or two.
    A movie.

    Whatever happened to survival of the fittest.
    People hiking in Iraq, mistakenly crossed into Iran.
    Dumb people.
    Dumb people should not reproduce, should not survive.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tourist.

    Time to take a break from the hiking trips...

    September 21, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  15. astounded at the ransom

    Why has no one been bleating about the RANSOM that was paid to "free" these two?? I'm sorry, but $500,000 PER PERSON in "bail" was paid as a condition of their release. THAT WASN'T BAIL. We, somehow or other, just gave Iran a million dollars in exchange for two (somewhat naive, possibly stupid) young men. I certainly don't believe that they should have been in prison in the first place, but to pay that much to get them home....THIS IS A PROBLEM.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
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