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. Billbo

    Who in their right mind would ever want to hike in Iran?? Especially during a time of such intense political unrest and violence? I mean really people!

    September 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • yoda9999

      they were not in iran. they were in iraqi kurdistan. it is safe there after george bush liberated it
      im american and been there also
      iranians kidnapped them

      September 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • armyvet

      Bilbo...I agree with you completely. While I'm happy our citizens are out of captivity, another part of me says we should have thinned the herd. I must admit, it's not illegal to be a coplete moron. Let's go hiking in a war zone! Yeah! Where's Red Foreman when we need him?

      September 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • yoda9999

      armvet iraqi kurdistan IS NOT A WAR ZONE it was liberated a long time ago by US NATO george bush cheney rumzfeld

      September 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joe

    Next up, talk show circuit, reality show, maybe Dancing With The Stars. Only in America does outright stupidity lead to outright wealth.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. erich2112x

    Make sure you check their luggage coming in, or just burn it completely. I don't trust those Iranians AT ALL.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. steve

    why would oman pay?

    September 21, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bmichael

    ...trying to figure out the difference between the Iranians and the Somali pirates...

    September 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dan in AZ

    I am glad they are safe, but no one seems to report 2 things. Who paid the one million dollar bail? And secondly, doesn't bail mean you have to go back? Otherwise it was a ransom.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Don

    These young guys' stupidity is beyond description, don't have words for it.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Peter Brown

    For the CiA that is a cheap amount to put up to get two agents back,

    September 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • dan in AZ

      Doubt if CIA, the pubicity would be much less. These guys are going to be on a bunch of talk shows and then write a book. Seems we have very poor reporting on this. Lets have the whole story.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. X

      You are one of few who understand the REAL DEAL. The rest are either misinformed, or acting stupid as they know that too.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. InfidelHere

    Just a MUSLIM payoff to their MUSLIM ransom! Who paid for these hiker's stupidity?? Remember at the turn of the 19 century, the U.S. paid MUSLIMS 25% of our federal budget to MUSLIMS not to attack our US merchant seamen, hold them ransom, and force conversion to ISLAM! Finally, President Thomas Jefferson had enough and dispatached our newly formed Marines, " the shores of Tripoli" (sing it with me) to KILL these islamic animals!! It is the only thing muslims understand then and TODAY!

    September 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jerryc

    I hope the spoiled rich liberal brats enjoyed their vacation. Maybe now they have a more realist look on life.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • yoda9999

      jerryc george bush liberated iraqi kurdistan along with dick cheney and donald rumsfeld. it is a safe place to vacation
      their mistake was being too close to the border
      i been there also and believe kurdistan is safe

      September 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rlcommenter

    I don't understand why the News keeps making the same mistake and calling the two CIA agents "Hikers"... Everyone knows they were CIA agents...

    September 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • yoda9999

      cia would not send amerocans into iran thats not how it works except in hollywood

      September 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. NanookoftheNorht

    Will not even bother to read through the hundreds of inane negative comments here.
    THANK YOU TO WHOMEVER PAID THE 2 MILL BLACKMAIL/RAMSOM to get Shane and Josh released and to whichever
    government officials (Hilliary & Co.:-) make it happen (DON'T WORRY MR. & MRS. TAXPAYER, IT WAS NOT YOU !)
    And most of all THANK GOD your horrid journey is over boys and Sarah and that HE gave you the strength to endure !
    Now "Awkmadinnajacket" (as Jay Leno calls you:-) you and your terrorist buddies go count your millions and plan your next "spy" caper. Oh and to borrow a phrase from BinLadin....."Death to Iraq !!".

    September 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • NanookoftheNorth

      ...sorry, should have been 'North' in screen name.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • dan in AZ

      First off they weren't where they were suppose to be. No excuse for that. And how do we know the taxpayer didn't pay for the hikers blunder? No one has reported the source of the funds.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • NanookoftheNorth

      Should have been "Death to Iran" but Iraq will do too.....oh what the heck, Death to all those GOD-less countries !

      September 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dave

    They should not have been freed, They entered iran illegally... I would have let them rot there. it would have been 2 less idiots walking around on American soil.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      You are such a nice guy.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeremy

    Hope they at least got some useful Intel.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. scott

    i told you to keep them they make americans look stupid who hikes in betwen iraq and iran they should have been shot on sight for tresspassing simple they are two america losers doing this for im sure financial reasons im sure they will write a book and get rich i really wish iran had balls and would have shot and killed them iran you have no balls and who paid the millino dollars suckers

    September 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • dan in AZ

      Well, them being shot is harsh. We have illegals enter our country every day, they are just deported when caught. That is what Iran should have done if they were a civilized country.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
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