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. Andreas

    So, these three 'hikers' were actually attempting to shove Christianity in that region. Loaded with bibles etc they JUST couldn't stop themselfs and their stupid believe, hm? And no word about it. And who gets to pay the bail? Who paid it? Dude, let me find out it was me and I will start selling my toilet water as holy-water to those crazy people in religion.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Toby

      Paul you are dead on with that!

      Why do people feel like they need to shove their religious beliefs down the throats of others is beyond me. Its not the 1950's any more you think this Christianity would have absolved by now with their archaic belief system and with the advancement of technology.

      To go into a country like Iran without permission is beyond retarded I bet they thought God was protecting them. Where was god when they were locked up in a foreign prison?

      Your best point was...who paid for this? I hope it was not you and me with tax dollars.

      September 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. joey

    these two p;unks need to be debriefed at gbay

    September 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Artful Humor

    What did we learn here?

    a) Etch a Sketch is not a good GPS device.
    b) Never hike in the middle east if your an American.
    c) Idiots will always do idiotic things.
    d) all of the above.

    The answer is.... hold on let me check what leftover that I don't like to eat is in my fridge.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Squid

    The US government (taxpayers) paid millions to get these bozos released from Iran. Just be honest.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. OregonTom

    If you cross illegally into the US you get sent home. Why in hell did Iran hold these guys for two years?

    September 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clark Nova

      Actually, if you're Haitian, for example, and you enter Florida, you might end up in a barbed ire compound for ten years waiting for a hearing that will never come. Far worse treatment than these dupes got.

      September 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ohmy

      If you're thought of as a spy by the US, you are sent to GBay Cuba for 10+ years, with no lawyer or trial. These punks got off easy

      September 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • HollyG

      Iran held the hikers for two years to bully the United States, plus for money.

      September 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sue

    = ]

    September 21, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Clark Nova

    I still think that they were spying. No one could be stupid enough to hike the Iraq-Iran border for kicks.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Artful Humor

      How much you want to bet some certain individual will actually do it. let me give you some hints: I can see Russia from my house; he is such a Mavrick; you know.

      September 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Arthur

    How many community hours are each going to be doing to pay off OUR $500K...........

    glad they home though

    September 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sebast975

    these idiots couldn't find any better place to hike than on the border or a war zone??????

    September 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • sebast975

      "of"

      September 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tony

    Sure glad they have been released. Maybe next time ......a more reliable GPS.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Anne

    Don't you think they paid a huge price for their moment of stupidity, Yes they were wrong to hike there, but I hope non of you have ever made a mistake!!!, I know you are all perfect. Personally I am just glad they are on their way home.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Chrisg

    Thank God for Oman

    September 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Arwen

    American taxpayers should not have to pay this...the families of these two idiots should be liable. And these two bozos should be made to reimburse them.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mr J

    Now let me guess they already have book and movie deals. You cant tell me that these guys that supposedly are well versed in the language, traveling and backpacking, hiking, etc just casually strolled around and ended up in Iran without knowing it. When you play with fire and are acting stupidly, then you must pay the price when you get burned. It is like tourists wanting to travel tothe mid-east and vacation. What idiots.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Glen Pruden

    My only question is with all of the safe countries in the world to hike in, why in Gods name would you hike in a country that your country is at war with, me thinks you are just asking for trouble

    September 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
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