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.


soundoff (1,018 Responses)
  1. gat

    understandably, the iranian government found it hard to believe that anyone would want to vacation anywhere near their vile country

    September 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Melinda Beindorf

    Thy should have never been there ...what the heck were they thinking? They weren't!

    September 21, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      I agree, it's time to take away their passports. I am glad they are safe, and should now
      Star on 'world's dumbest.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kent Bowen

    These guys are lucky as H*** they aren't still in prison. They made a bad decision and lucky to come out at all. Two years too long? How about the rest of your life? They will write a book and retire fat and happy.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben M

      Agree. I hope the State Dept. 1) invoices them for the cost of retrieving them; and, 2) is paid first out of the proceeds of their inevitable book royalties and speaking engagements..

      September 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Laurie B.

    For your information, these 3 morons were working in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. Shane Bauer announced at the airport in Oman that there are American political prisoners like in Iran and that he is equating America with Iranian repression. His comments will come back to haunt him. Oh, by the way, the arabs in Oman paid their one million dollar bail. What a nice little cozy family they all are.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kande

    All I have to say about these 2 imbeciles is they went to Berkley and have a degree in being stupid and ignorant.
    On a side note....I vomited a little in my mouth when I heard Brian Williams give Ann Curry credit for their release after her interview with Iran's president. Media has a way of swaying everything we is disgusting.

    Everyone stay tuned for the Today show with Ann Curry interviewing these 2 dummies. Waste of time and money and did nothing for US reputation!!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dr Langhorne

    The far-Left duo, after suffering through physical and mental ayatollah style sadistic torture, are so grateful their former masters released them, they included anti-American propaganda in their release statements. "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 are in fact equating America to Iran and inferring that we too have political prisoners in jails.

    Next they will go on a whirlwind international media tour and write books about...the EVIL of America & Israel. Shourd expressed shock in an interview with Amnesty International that the ayatollahs didn't release them. Especially after learning how much they hated their common enemy Israel. Ahmadinejad agreed and told her right before she left Iran that he believed they were in fact "good kids" meaning, their mutual hatred of America & Israel was what made them good. Expect many more statements & interviews like this from the far-Left Trio as the worldwide Left leaning press gobbles it up. they're famous now and they have a "story" to tell.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dr Langhorne

    "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." Notice how the far-Leftist Globe Trekker Bauer puts America first. He condemns us and sets the tone for using his newfound fortune to take on a new political agenda. Prior it was just Israel but now we will be targeted by this ingrate who only thanks the Sultan of Oman. Shourd's first location she to take them is to a mosque tomorrow. There are deep political undertones to all the actions of these naive kids and the world will happily give them all the microphones they want to spew their twisted & distorted hatred.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. justathought

    I'm glad they are home safe, I hope they learned their lesson and can teach others. I hope they can appreciat the cost and hard work to get them home. Like some adolecent kids, I think it was stupid of them going to such a dangerous country in the first place. What were they trying to accomplish anyway? Like there isn't better and more beautiful places in the U.S. to hike?

    September 22, 2011 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
  9. justathought

    @Ashrakay–anyone can look like a spy. I've given thought that they may have been spies, why in the world were they in a place that was so dangerous?

    September 22, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. justathought

    I had gone to bed and I was thinking of these crazy kids and what we Americans may have just taught some of these renegade or rogue countries about the art and profit of kidnapping people, charging them as spies, but will release them for ransome? If I remember right we, as a country, went though something like this once before, are we going to do it again?

    September 22, 2011 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  11. bigwilliestyles

    They were spies; just not very good spies. They got caught playing their 'smartest guys in the room" game, and paid the price. Their replacements are already in place, pretending that they are there for a legitimate reason as we speak. The powers that run this country really believe that they operate somewhere beyond the rest of us; its sickening.

    September 22, 2011 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. kevin

    Iran seems to have formulated the position without any response from the U.S. In this situation they have succeeded in humiliating the U.S. Government and its people. I would have gave them 10 days to deliver them in good health to Zurich. I would use an approach where a whole population was not worth the life of two or three americans.
    These people have had a bad history with the US during the Carter Administration where they again humiliated the U.S.
    The US does not have the creativity in convincing these people to release the americans. Several tactical Nukes on Cruise missles in the right place might take the arrogance away from them.
    Unfortunately we live in a time when you have to use a big stick to protect your citizens and send a strong message to anyone who wishes to harm you.

    September 22, 2011 at 4:58 am | Report abuse |
  13. HUMAN

    It is funny how everyone is ripping on Iran and saying Two Years Too Long etc. Yet today an innocent man was condemned to death, an American citizen where so many things pointed that he is not guilty yet the Un-just System did so! enjoy the free world

    September 22, 2011 at 5:25 am | Report abuse |
  14. maryosborne

    I am glad they are free.

    September 22, 2011 at 5:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. JennyK89

    It's great to know that the hikers are finally free and finally coming home. Two years is definitely too long, and this is a cause for celebration, especially for the hikers. Shane was actually a journalist who contributed often to Democracy Now!. They've been following this story closely and you can check out their coverage here:

    September 22, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
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