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. phyllis

    These people who go into these dangerous Country's, have no brains to me.....Why would risk you're freedom, like this.....To me this is crazy...If you are going on vacation, to another Country, go to one that is on friendly to the West.........

    I bet these idiots don't do this again.........It has cost their family a fortune, trying to get them home........

    So my advice to you three people, and others who think nothing bad can happen to them..........stay your ass at home.............peace out..........

    September 21, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      I'm sure they assumed Ahmadinejad was going to be as humanitarian as he sounded during the speech he gave at their college the year before.... and felt no danger.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. William

    The Yuppie/Hipsters are on the way home....yay! Not....

    September 21, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • W's a D-Bag

      What a cruel, d-bag thing to say about people you've never met.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. yvonne

    Even though I'm glad all 3 have now been released, why would they hike in that area in the first place. Play with fire you get burned!!!!!!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • mm1970

      no kidding. I mean, yay, they are free! but, hiking in Iraq? Really? You know, there are hot dry, rocky places in the US to hike too.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. Bimbo the Birthday Clown

    For all calling them idiots:

    You are assuming they were NOT kidnapped by the Iranians on the Iraqi side of the border. How nice that you would give Iran the benefit of the doubt on this.

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

      You are as dumb as they are if you think it is safe to go hiking in Iraq.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • ali

      hey bimbo. let me give you a history lesson on american duplicity/treachery. when the USS Vincennes shot down an iranian airliner ascending after take off in 1988 mistaking it for a descending fighter plane (which is, in itself, ridculous and hard to believe for anyone with a brain)...the government reported that the ship was in international waters. well guess what. the captain himself came out on national television a few years later and said that yes, they were in fact in iranian waters. see the government counts on the short attention spans of its people. a few years and ist like nothing happened. guess what. most of the res of the world, the iranians included, have longer memories than that.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • USA rocks!

      Right on, Bimbo. The haters are eating their hearts out at the thought of these hikers gaining freedom. Go figure.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dan

    This is disappointing.

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

    God, listen to all these negative comments. Imagine you were in their situation. I'm just happy they're coming home safe and sound.

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

      Would we be stupid enough to be in this situation is the ?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      You are missing one important fact as to why so many of us are calling them idiots. That fact being that we would not be so ignorant as to place ourselves in danger as these morons did. As for you not being able to realize that fact you apprently were educated at the same school they were. Although I am not sure 'educated' is the correct term in this case.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. shishta

    send them back, Rid the U.S. of these idiots.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  8. Poolchick

    I can't believe all the negative comments on here. I for one am happy to hear they were released and will be going home. They were three young people that were hiking in a different country. It's not living if you don't see the world. I wouldn't dare choose that country to be in myself but they did. It was a hard lesson learned but that's what life is. Some of you on here have no human compassion like you never made a mistake.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Amanda

      Couldn't agree more!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • ali

      why wouldnt you dare? its a nice place. canadians go all the time. as do many europeans. its only the idiots that make up this country that seem to think iran is a black hole. guess who's fault THAT is? (HINT: we're posting on their site right now..).

      September 21, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Claudio

      No honey. This was no mistake.
      Mistake is when you are not aware of what the consequences might be.
      These people knew.
      It was STUPIDITY! And they should be smacked!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Betsy

      Well said! There is so much inexplicable hate out there. It's been that way the whole time these boys were gone. Lots of empty lives that thrive on other people's pain.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • William

      Your opinion of what living is your opinion. Who the hell has money to travel the globe? Let me guess. Your a yuppie that has to go in debt to satisfy himself that he has done more than anyone else? Sickening...

      September 21, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Poolchick

      Well William, first of all I am a she not a he. Poolchick was not enough of a hint for you. Second of all, I don't have lots of money and haven't been fortunate enough to be able to travel but some people can and good for them. You just ASSumed and you know how the saying of that goes don't you? So you are just making my point on how so many humans have no compassion and is only one of the major issues in this world. People like you!!!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • westerner

      @poolchick- Go back to the pool, enjoy your glass of wine, close your eyes and ride your pink unicorn into the sunset while wearing your rose tinted sunglasses...

      September 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poolchick

      Wow Westerner, you are as bright as ole William. I play billiards, don't drink wine and don't believe in unicorns. As for you, go ask your momma to teach you some manners since you are lacking them.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. hobbes

    As I understand it, they plan a celebratory excursion to Juarez Mexico when they get home.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. tax payer

    who's paying the tab for these morons? how could you not know your were venturing onto some maniacs territory. did you think they were going to meet you with open arms. please!!!! they should have to pay back the us tax payer. I guess there are no shortage of idiots in the world.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. Swiper the Fox

    Oman !

    September 21, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dan

    Send them to N. Korea. It is a good time to hike there.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Next hiking trip: Somalia

      September 21, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. ali

    that anyone thinks this is a trio of innocent backpackers is laughable. the piano of the government, that being the media, has made the people of this couuntry stupid and ready to digest whatever regurgitated drivel it cooks up.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ron

    This is Iran sponsored kidnapping. Do NOT blame the victims here!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • ali

      proof? or are you just shooting your mouth off? history testifies that america is the primary offender in the antagonistic relationship of these two countries. read a book sometime dude. what we DO know is that three americans who all happen to be jewish were within sight of iranian border guards.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Claudio

      Yeah. "Victims" are simply stupid people. Simpletons. Morons.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  15. Humphrey

    we all ought to celebrate that they are coming home alive, what they did in the past is irrelevant, however a lesson has been learned by all. Welcome home guys and wish you all the very best.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
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