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. David M

    UCal Berkley grads. I would expect nothing less from them.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • duke5343

      Hope for USA is they are not able to spread their genes thru Gene pool – Please DONT breed

      September 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • UC Graduate

      I am a graduate student of the same school. Our classmates do not feel particularly excited about the return of these reckless UC guys. Oman paid not because the government likes them. It is the US government, through a middleman, paid the bail. Our government should find a way for a reimbursement from these two guys.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. forreal89

    welcome home idiots

    September 21, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carol

      I agree. Are there not enough other places in the world or America for them to hike? These idiots had to hike in Iraq. Definitely not a tourist destination these days.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Toni D'Andrea

    It is a wonderful day in Americia!!! 2 of our own American boys are back safe and sound from Iran!! Every American citizen who wrote a negative comment about Shane and Josh/or their situation...I challange you to go live in another country for JUST A YEAR!! I don't care what country it will want to kiss the ground of the USA when you return. This is the GREATEST country in the world....given to us as a gift from the ALMIGHTY!! Read your Bible.....

    September 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • jT

      Toni D'Andrea These two idoits cost the United States millions, we'll send you the bill since you are so pround.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck Steak

      I agree with you about this country. Now that they've spent TWO years in Iran, we'll expect these two boys to kiss the ground here in the U.S. when they get off that plane!

      September 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really

      I've lived in a couple of countries for about a year. I would much rather live in Australia than the U.S. Don't get me wrong, the U.S. is great. But there is a difference between patriotism and arrogance/ignorance. Cultures are different, and just because you may not like living somewhere else for whatever reason doesn't make it alright to go around slamming other countries of being terrible places. These hikers made an idiotic mistake of figuring they are American and nothing bad could happen...WRONG. Not everyone views us as the supreme country with perfect values given to us by "the almighty"... Sensitivity to other cultures and knowing when to compromise takes you a long way when overseas.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big Fish

      Strange comment Toni. If the three Marx Bros wanted to hike in dangerous territory, they could have joined our wonderful armed services over there in Iraq. They are spies....perhaps even for their beloved israel.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dudesdad

      Today, the taxpayers just shelled out 1 million dollars and gave it to Iran. We have to keep the CIA happy.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big George in Big D

      You fool – those 3 idiots (don't forget the girl) cost the U.S. millions. They should have thought twice – no 100 times before hiking in unfriendly muslim, tribal countries!

      September 21, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • mj

      How stupid can they be? Hiking in a foreign Country with unmarked, hostile borders? Hope they have learned their lesson. There are a lot of wonderful places to go hiking in America and Canada. Would love to hear "why" they were actually there.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big George in Big D

      Foollish post – those 3 idiots (don't forget the girl) cost the U.S. millions. They should have thought twice – no 100 times before hiking in unfriendly muslim, tribal countries!

      September 21, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shahin

      You know, believe it or not, but the US did not crawl out of the Almighty's ASS you know. There are far better countries to live in than the USA that are much safer and comfortable to live in. You brag and brag about your freedoms while not realizing that most of the civilized world has those freedom as well, except you're too arrogant to see that. Patriotism is thinking that your country is better than other countries just because you were born in it. And in America, apparantly, this is something taught to every newborn. Wake up you pretentious dramaqueens, there's a bigger world out there!!!

      September 21, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chuck Steak

    It still puzzles me that Iran never exposed how the "Great Satan" used these three idiots for spying. Normally "Mopery with Intent to Gawk" at a border is not a crime. Iran needs to show the world what proof it has, otherwise it was just your average every day kidnap/extortion crime by an organized gang of thieves. In a way, it was like the pirates in Somalia!

    September 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jan

    Glad they're back safely, but now.... Americans – be smart enough to stay the hell out of that part of the world unless you must be there for some reason.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bob

    who paid their bail?

    September 21, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dudesdad

      You and I did.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. coco

    We are forced to read about their problem in the media for weeks and months. If you are dumb enough to go to a war zone such as Iraq to hike, bad things are going to happen. You should know that you will be arrested or worse – killed. But since you knew what you were getting into,! Don't make your problems my problem.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dudesdad

      They were "hiking" there on purpose. And it wasn't for their own benefit.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JackM

    These two jokers deserve honorable mention for a Darwin Award.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Karmic Tips

    Here we go .. Now these two or even the third will be celebrities soon. Multi million dollar Movie / Book deals TV shows and what not. A heroic (stupid) ordeal can get them all the wealth in the world. what a way to get there. and who paid for their stupidity err. ...... road to millionaire life ?

    September 21, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • BW

      Well, they can use the profits from their book/movie deals and reimburse the US citizens for their bail bill.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karmic Tips

      Wishful thinking. Everyone will be glad if they do that.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. richp

    Where to from there you idiots, sailing off Somalia.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Emi

    That is great news. Wish them the best 🙂

    September 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RichXX

    I am glad for their families, all the worry these two men put them through with this stupid trick of hiking near Iran in Iraq, no less. I hope they are sterilized before they breed.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bill

    What a poor time to reference those "unjustly" imprisoned in America. What a tool! Send him back, please.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. RyanSD

    So glad others are thinking the same as me - why didn't these nitwits go backpacking in Europe like everyone else? Thanks for wasting a whole lot of America's time, doofuses. Too bad I couldn't catch you while I was in Iraq, turn you around and save everyone a whole lot of trouble. Now go dominate the evening airwaves with your interviews and book promotions.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Matt Dillon

    Who paid the ransom indeed?
    The administration has vehemently denied that they paid the "bail". So, if these are indeed American boys, as we have been led to believe, why would the US NOT pay the bail? Why would they not shout to the heavens that they had paid the bail for an American citizen wrongfully accused of spying in Iran? There can be only one conclusion as to who paid the ransom: Israel.

    Anyone with half a brain knows that these Americans were there as agents of Israel. The real offense was using their US passports to shield them from the prosecution they truly deserve. If they are going to work for Israel – they should have the decency to use the Israeli passport. But we know for a fact, however, that agents of Mossad routinely use foreign passports to hide their illegal deeds. This was simply shameful.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
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