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.

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2011/09/21/tsr-iran-hikers-released-jamjoom.cnn"%5D

[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.

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2011/09/21/nr-iran-hikers-arrive.cnn"%5D

[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. woodrow

    How are people hiking in the mountains spies? This government illegally detained them for 2 years. Perhaps they should pay retribution to them and their families. What they do next matters. They are without honor.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      I'll just call Ahmadinejad on the phone and let him know he's been a bad boy!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • notamoron

      Wow, so, please tell me, what are you opinions on the hundreds detained illegally for 10 years in Guantanamo Bay? These men were somewhere they shouldn't have been, just because Iran actually enforces its border policy, doesn't mean they just let illegals walk in an out at their leisure.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      No, instead will host Ahmadinejad for a nice speaking tour for our college students... Wonder if the Columbia University is paying him for his speech?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Andres

      Why the hell are these idiot hiking on the Iran Iraq border to begin with? What did they expect? They should be left to rot for their sheer stupidity.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • alan

      those hikers had no business beiere in the first place. what, there aren't enough beautiful places around the world for them to go hiking? what about Canada or the US? what about Europe, maybe Switzerland – i hear they have some nice mountains? instead they are irresponsible enough to go hiking in an area that is rife with conflict and full of anit US sentiment and are surprised when they are detained. my father tuaght me when i was a child to use common sense and good judgement. now the US has to waste diplomacy and owe them favours, for what, the release of these fools? and someone suggest that Iran pay retribution? these guys are lucky they didn't rot the rest of their lives in an Iranian prison...

      September 21, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      Tell me, what would we (USA) do with three "hikers" that cross into the US from Mexico? I think we try to capture them and if we cant get them we shot them. Jail for two years doesnt sound so bad, eh? Here is a great idea, DONT GO HIKING NEAR THE BORDER OF IRAN

      September 21, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • See America Guys.

      Hey Bro! What do you want to do on spring Break?
      Lets go hiking in
      the most dangerous place in the world!
      If we get in trouble someone else can pay for it!
      I could use $1000,000,000.
      Should have left um.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. TYN1

    I hope the $1 million ransom will help Iran further it's nuke plans. Also Iran should hunt for more Americans along it's borders in the future - they fetch good money 🙂

    September 21, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Becca

      Yes I'd say so too mayne the U.S. can start collecting money like that for everyone illegal in our country we find to fix up our debt problem. I think it is awful that these hikers were held like that and for so long too. SPIES? Heck what do they have to hide exactly in their country?
      I think every one from the U.S. had better stay right in the U.S. where they belong travel days to other Countries is just about over as it is not saft any more.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • TYN1

      @Becca: That wont work. Other countries won't care to pay ransom to free their citizens 🙂

      September 21, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Older Sista

      Agreed. How many beautiful places in the world are there to hike ? But nooooooooo. Let's just go pull the cat's tail and see what happens. Surely nothing bad will happen to us!!
      I'm trying to put myself in their parents place but even if it were my kid, I'd still have to say they were a flippin' idiot of the highest rank. 8 yrs. in a foreign prison might give them some smarts. They obviously don't have any now. Or the little sweetcheeks that was released earlier.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mitch

    Christians control the media and just about everything else in the world, including starting wars for natural resources!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • RWDone

      You are either a idiot or a 12 year old. Maybe both

      September 21, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Older Sista

      Christians control the media. Suuuurrree they do. Oh yeah. Their ideals are heard every night for hours on end. Also their God's name, right? I mean, I'll bet I hear the name Jesus 10 times a day.
      Where are you living?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. clarke

    until they are on american soil they won't be free.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Older Sista

      Then they should be locked up for their own protection. They're liable to try climbing an electrical tower.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. AL

    Now, they can write a book and become rich. They can write whetever they want and we listend whatever they say .. very simple math...

    September 21, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. rkt210

    Did my tax dollars contribute to the $1M ransom for these idiots? I hope the funds were raised by the family.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Westerner

      I agree. The US and plenty of other non hostile places offer great hiking destinations. It's these Berkeley morons that chose Iraq and Iran. They just wanted to see the great people and places their professors told them about, Idiots!!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Nancym

      I wouldn't donate a penny for these morons to be released. It was the full responsibility of their families to raise this money! I resent the fact that people who do foolish (STUPID) things see it the responsibility of the government to come to their defense. You can't cure stupid–leave them there!

      September 21, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ken

    So, Ahmadinejad holds our private citizens captive for two years, prosecutes them, finds them guilty, then releases them for 1 Mil ransom.. and we invite him to speak at one of our colleges!!.... huh??? This is no coincidence that the hikers were released just before his little college pep rally!, Oh what a great humanitarian his is... not! Where's my America!!?

    September 21, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Older Sista

      Your America is being hijacked and anyone who says so is mocked. The road to destruction is wide and many are those who go there.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. Old Bold

    Damn straight! Now give me some oil also!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. EatYouAlive

    Iran = North Korea

    September 21, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ed

    Make them pay back the money or pull their fingernails out!!! A million dollar grant to cross the property line into Iran! And you wonder why our country's economy is in such a mess!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ziggy Pop

    I I would like to formally extend an invitation to this year's Hiking Tours 2012- Africa edition. Two years ago, we thought it was a good idea to hike along the Iraq/Iran border. This year, we plan on visiting the field of Sudan and then offer a new boat ride along the Somalia coast line to see water and maybe even some armed fisherman.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. MissUnderstood

    Just so so sOOO delighted that they are freed. I want to tell everyone that they should not be so hard on these young people. They are trying to do Good in this world. Anyone who is here in my country, who has bad intentions or designs on this country– either adhere to our values, work for freedom and peace or LEAVE.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  13. ian

    spies? well, that is possibly true. who will ever really know. but the sad, ugly truth is that they were probably just stupid youth who wanted to explore the world and had the arrogance to think politics and the reality of the middle eastern world wouldnt affect them.
    oh, to be 22 again! i only hope that the lesson they learned the hard way will resonate with other naive (i.e., stupid) people of their generation. but...sadly, i rather doubt that it will.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. FParana

    It's pretty bad when CNN can't even get their headlines straight. LOL

    September 21, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • RWDone

      You'd think someone proofread before hitting post wouldn't you?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  15. tay tay

    why in the world would the hike there????????

    September 21, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • tay tay

      idk tay

      September 21, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Well Ahmadinejad sounded so hospitable during that speech he made at their college... they thought they'd just stop by and say "Hi" 🙂

      September 21, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
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