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. Wawawhat

    If by "released" they mean the ransom will be paid? Then yes, they may be "released" this week.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. tacjam2

    So...where to next boys? The mine fields between N and S Korea? When you get home, someone should kick both of your sorry @sses for making such poor and stupid decisions to hike between Iraq and Iran! I don't feel sorry for fools!

    September 21, 2011 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Cataylor

      I have to agree! What are you doing wandering near the border of an obviously dangerous country? Go hiking in Yosemite for God's Sake!

      September 21, 2011 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
    • The Agent

      I agree, I tired of hearing about these guys, you should of stayed at a KOA and went hiking.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Erik

      Completely agree! They should be fined by the US for at least some of the expenses they made tax payes absorb through their stupidity.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Almas

      I hope you are never in that situation. You must be a very bitter and miserable person to say the things you do. Keep your wise cracks to yourself. We do not need to hear them. Get a life.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Nuance

      100% agree – these guys are either spies or just idiots and likely the latter. I certainly hope that money is not coming out of the public's pocket.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • caw

      Cataylor – Go hiking in Yosemite for God's Sake!

      Haven't you seen the news? Yosemite is much more dangerous than Iran...especially if you lack common sense as these people obviously do.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Obeythelaw

      Almas – Nobody with common sense would ever find themselves in that situation!

      September 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Keyvan

    Hello there
    I'm a Persian (Iranian) and I'm also so happy of this news . I congratulate to them and their family and all American people !

    September 21, 2011 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
    • John-ur-a-tool

      I love when you tools refer to yourselves as "Persians" like it is going to fool anyone. For what it is worth there is no such place as Persia anymore. Check a map.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Your Worst Nightmare

      @John-ur-a-tool – Your hatred and ignorance is sickening and you don't deserve freedom of speech. Your vile comments are a prime example of exactly what makes people hate this country. Go eat some hot wings, drink a Bud, and yell at the TV while watching football, like the redneck trash that you are.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • slc

      Don't forget the side of ranch, Johnny.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • SoulSurfingInSD

      Hey I take offense at that hotwing and beer comment. I love hotwings and beer. Though football is boring, I'd much rather surf. How dare you insult people who eat wings. They are man-food, Mr. Mamby Pamby.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. Qev

    Can't wait to listen to them go on about how beautiful the country is and how they can't wait to get back hiking there as soon as a protest for them being jailed.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. Fred

    What a wonderful new means of generating income Iran has found. Did they steal the idea from Somali pirates?

    September 21, 2011 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. john doe

    and of course some idiot wanna be soldier will blame Obama, aint that right Alex, you

    September 21, 2011 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  7. Fred

    And to those of you in Iran that think these guys were US gov't agents, look at the photos. These two clowns were lucky enough to graduate high school.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      that's part of their cover, duh.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mo Brown


    September 21, 2011 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Canuk-eh!

      Couldn't agree more with you. What kind of idiot goes hiking there?

      September 21, 2011 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
    • SoulSurfingInSD

      Hey I have a bright idea. Libya is really nice this time of year. Who all wants to go hiking in Libya with me right now? Woo, good times.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Jacqui

      In total agreement with you! Why hike there – stay in your country and hike. Plenty of states to do that in. Sorry, but no sympathy for them.

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

      ...the kind of idiots who sit through a Ahmadinejad speech at their college and believe that he's a humanitarian.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. john doe

    sorry Alex, i meant Ipmutt,you idiot

    September 21, 2011 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. john doe

    they shouldnt have taken their anuses over there in the first time just go to the florida keys or hike the grand canyon or something...common sense now..

    September 21, 2011 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. Larry

    Yessiree, nothing like posting a $1 million bribe, err bail, to ensure they get freed. Politicians everywhere understand grease.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. Marci

    Thank God for their safe return home. Enough said!

    September 21, 2011 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. Dan

    Obama; would you please imprison Ahmadijenad NOW. just keep him for couple years, no one would miss him here in Iran. beside, he'll understand how fun that is.
    95% of people of Iran

    September 21, 2011 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. FussyBoy

    CIA spy or idiot? American hiking on the border of Iran? American hiking in Iraq? American hiking in Iraq during war?

    September 21, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. Brian

    What's next boys? How about a sailing trip along the Somalia coast?

    Pure idiots.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
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