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=""%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=""%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.


soundoff (1,018 Responses)
  1. Bubba

    If you can't convince ME these cats aren't spies, good luck convincing the world. Just look at them.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • jim

      Spying on what, sand dunes?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Oh, Bubba!

      Yeah, well, Bubba. We're not even gonna' try to talk any sense into ya'. Would be a waste of breath. Go grab another beer and live in your little Bubba bubble.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. Paul Willson

    so what ? They were where they should not have been in 1st place qwhy sympathy for foolks who now will gvet book deal and movie rights. ? sstupidity shold NEVER be rewarded

    September 21, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Displeased

      Exactly! Sympathy is not the American way. We only know how to hate.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. foreverwar

    We get back two really not so bright hikers, or two spies who are pretty lousy at what they do. Lucky us.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Jacqui

      Too funny!!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. Paul Willson

    so what ? They were where they should not have been in 1st place why sympathy for fools ?

    September 21, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. Desjardins

    We should copy the Iranians and release the innocents in Guantanamo

    September 21, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • jim

      For $500,000 each?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. justergal

    Wow! Anti-semitism and anti-zionism is everywhere! By the way, only one hiker is Jewish.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. RossTrex

    From Wikipedia:

    The three Americans are anti-war, social justice and Palestine Solidarity Movement activists. They had been living and active in the Middle East, and were on holiday in Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous region of Iraq free from the sectarian struggle that dominates much of Iraq.

    So Iran punished some hippies for being on their side. Typical, it would seem that any pro-Palesitnian westerner is fair game for Islamic States. Support Islam and you will face things like this or death like Vittorio Arrigoni.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. outboard88

    These d**chebags got exactly what they deserved. Frankly, they deserved worse. We all know people like them. They are convinced that they're the one true beacon of light in a dim dark world, so to prove how intellectually superior they are, they ignore State Dept. warnings and go hiking in one of the most dangerous and anti-American areas of the world. Then, once they realize the warnings weren't just to prevent them from posting pictures on Facebook, they try to avail themselves of rights they don't have in a country governed by a violent dictator. All of a sudden, they realize their philosophy classes at UCB left them wholly unprepared for the real world consequences of assanine actions. What makes me sick about the whole thing is that these tools are going to come back to the U.S., be treated as heros, have twits like Ann Curry profile their "emmotional journey" and profit from their self-aggrandizing behavior. For the amount of time, money, and diplomatic effort they have wasted, there simply isn't enough bad that can happen to them.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Best Rant Ever!!!

      OMG you have me laughing so hard. "The one true beacon of light in a dim dark world..." Classic!!! On the bright side, perhaps they have learned their lesson and won't take that vaca to that cabin in North Korea.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Displeased

      Yeah, being an English teacher and journalist in Syria proves they are superior. Sheesh!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • outboard88

      Glad I could entertain–thanks!! One of these knobs lives near me and I am so sick of hearing about them on the local news that I could puke.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • dtroitwings1

      Couldn't have said it better. Having been to a few parts of the Middle East myself (thanks to the military) most areas over there are not the sort of places civilians should be hiking on vacation or whatever the hell those clowns were doing. Qatar would have been a sensible alternative if they absolutely had to go vacationing in the Middle East as they have decent relations with the US and are one of the most stable countries over there.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Best Posting on here!!!

      So well said – you had me in tears laughing so hard!!! Thank you for the entertainment and the truth!!!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • outboard88

      Hey DISPLEASED–that's the best you've got? Thanks for proving my point.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jeflee

    They will make that million back quick when they get their books published about being in an Iranian Prison for 2 years.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Idiots!!

      Yea, and we as Americans will go out and buy the stupid book to help them make their millions. Hope when they do make money that they pay back whoever paid the ransom................NOT!!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  10. glu

    Now they can hike on the Kenyan border with Somalia.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. MarineDad05

    I sure someone at the State department must have thanked Oman for their help in this matter, but as an ordinary American, I would also like to thank the Omani government and their people for all the help in getting these kids out of Iran.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  12. Steve in Colorado

    How on earth does one get a tourist visa for Iraq. They obviously were not just hikers.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • MarineDad05

      Iraq does have a legal government. Whether it functions or not is a different matter. Yes, to go to Iraq, you do need a visa.

      I am sure Iraq is a hot-shot tourist destination though!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Displeased

      They were living and working in Syria.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Displeased

      Actually MarineDad, some parts of Iraq are. You just don't hear about them on the media because some people there actually live in peace, something the media stays away from.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. Who's paying now

    I am also wondering who paid the bail? If I risk my life going to a dangerous place I shouldn't expect someone else to pick up the tab.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  14. bekkah

    unbelievably callous selfish responses.
    i am happy they are released. i am happy for their families to have their sons returned to them.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Not callous - just true

      Of course we are all happy for their families and that the ordeal is over. I would not jail on anyone. However, it was extremely selfish and stupid of them to put themselves in such a dumb situation. Hiking anywhere near Iran? What did they think was going to happen? Their selfish idiotic acts cost over a million dollars and scads of resources – not to mention what they put their poor mothers through. I'm just saying its hard to feel sorry for that level of stupidity.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. BaltGeorge

    To lose more than 2 yrs of your life... What is your crime? Being American, that's what.You know, the common Iranian citizen has no trouble with the west. In fact, most Iranians would probably love to have some freedom. What I understand, from a few Iranian/Americans, is that the average Iranian actually is a secret fan of the U.S. The problem with Iran is a small minority of religious wingnuts. I think it's just a matter of time before the clerics are toppled and Ahminijhad is being tried in international court.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42