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. NextHikingVenture...

    They have announced their next pleasurable Hiking venture.....on to North Korea!!!....and they wonder what all the commotion is about.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • B-Man

      well call me insensitive but i dont think these individuals were worth $500,000 each for bail. I really have a hard time sympathizing with these clowns as they put themselves in this possition. WHO ON FRICKIN EARTH THINKS ITS A GREAT IDEA TO HIKE IN A COUNTRY YOU KNOW IS IN CONFLICT WITH THE NEIGHBORING COUNTRY....i dont get it!! IMO this was no an innocent mistake but i dont feel that there was anything menacing on what they were doing when hiking...idiots...IMO

      September 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • B-Man

      for some reason i only get the availabiltiy to reply not post?? but no matter: who posted the money?

      September 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • stephen70

      Oh no, next hiking trip will be a march in the West bank against the dreadfull Israeli settlers!!!!
      Now they have to rest, write a couple of books and then head a department of Middle east affairsrs with grants from Quatar and saudi Arabia to brainwash american kids on campus!!!

      September 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • motsimoto

      I'm so very glad to know there's someone else that has the same opinion as I. I'd happily purchase the one way tickets for these three idiots to N. Korea any day.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JC

    These idiots were warned by everyone not to go wandering around; that Iran would detain them, and that the border was not a fixed line that would be respected. The espionage charge was ludicrous, of course, but had Iran arrested them for being stupid, I probably wouldn't have a problem with their rotting away in a cell. I imagine the State Department will have words for these guys, and probably a warning not to repeat stupid within the next ten years or so. Help from Oman does not come for free, and anyone who thinks we didn't pay something towards the release of those idiots is naive and best.

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

      They should be responsible for the $$ to the people involved in their release, the people who paid bail, etc. That is probably quite a bit of cash. Stupid is the understatement of the century. It was more like voluntary captivity. Hike in Yosemite. You even have more of a chance of getting killed!

      September 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kbcoop

    they deserved more jail time, morons. Lets go hiking in Iran...WoooHooo!

    September 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Once iran realized they had no intelligence

    they decided to cut their losses on rice & cots

    September 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Don't forget haircuts and polo shirts.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. stephen70

    Please have them come back asap. Their comrades are waiting for them In New York to demonstrate for a Palestinian State! We cannot wait to hear their blaming the US/Israeli imperialism and persecution of the musslim world for their ordeal!!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • westerner

      They are being diverted as featured speakers at the event!

      September 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Norm

    That's right Iran! Know your place ho!

    September 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Norm

    This poor jamoke has the vacant stare of someone that's been taking it up the tailpipe every day for the last two years.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Now that you bring it up, that's all I see.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JP

    Those smug, arrogant individuals are probably upset the money didn't get put up fast. Back in the states they should finish thier sentence for being stupid and have to pay back every dime.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Leroy

    What a bunch of idiots! Who is paying for all payers. We should have left them there to rot for being stupid. Isn't this just like w-h-i-t-e people. Don't we have enough mountains to climb here?

    September 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Ya Leroy its all them white people... Cute.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. They "earned" submittal of reimbursement payments and apology

    ... to all Americans, not book deals. Use your brain.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Guest

    So how much did this all cost?

    September 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kellyann

    I, for one, feel quite badly for the hell their families have been going through! I am glad they have been bribed out of prison. I also believe that if they were truly spies that the Iranian government would have killed them a long time ago. They are foolish for hiking in that area of the world, however, they, and their families did not deserve this. Some of you need to put yourselves in their families positions and THINK about what it has been like for all of them as well. I can see some of the comments now, "their families are just as stupid because they let them go." Well, they are young ADULTS and made their own, poor, decision, and I have yet to meet a young adult -any adult who has not royally messed up at least once in their lives.Most of us agree that these young people were NOT thinking, but show a little compassion at least for their familes. I'm glad they will be back home and hope they find safer places to go hiking in. The United States is full of beautiful places to see and hike in, as well as countries such as England, Ireland, Wales, etc.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      You are correct, the families are the victims here. These kids were idiots and put their families in this position. I feel horrible for them. They need to go out to the back yard and get a switch so dad can whoop their behinds for a few more years.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. nik green

    This is one of the most LENIENT treatments for espionage I can recall. Hikers, my a$$!

    Now, imagine the situation in reverse... three Iranians illegallyin the US, "hiking"? Gitmo, held without charge for years, no access to counsel, branded as terrorists in the corporate media, tortured, and then, 10 years later, still in solitary, no charges, no legal counsel, torture and still branded as terrorists.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Good point, don't mess with the big guns...

      September 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Carlo

    This is all anyone needs to know–they wasted millions of dollars in diplomatic efforts:

    "For reasons unknown, intelligence officers also suggest in the WikiLeaks report that the three hikers should have known better: "The lack of coordination on the part of these hikers, particularly after being forewarned, indicates an intent to agitate and create publicity regarding international policies on Iran," the intel assessment states. This, despite repeated claims by Meckfessel and Shourd, as well as The Nation report, that none of the hikers had any idea they were so close to the porous, unmarked border."

    September 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tamara

    How convenient that the Iranians decide to release these two men on the very same day that President Obama addresses the UN general assembly. As if to show how compassionate they are. We all know how friendly and just the iranian regime is (sarcasm), but with that said, these two men are not the brightest stars in the sky. Did they not know that what they were doing??? How irresponsible! I wonder who paid the bail?? From what I have been hearing they are outraged by the plight of the opressed palestinians. How about Sara Shourd be concerned about all the israeli men, women and children who have been the repeated victims of violence.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
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