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. Bibi5

    To those of you who are calling these kids stupid (oh, and I agree), just think back to some of the stupid things you did in your youth. We're all probably lucky we didn't end up in similar situations. I remember hanging out with some American servicemen in Spain and then finding out that they were all arrested a couple of months later for drug possession. If I had been with the.......I could still be in prison somewhere.

    September 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      I still agree these people are idiots and naive. If this is the first time it happened, then I can give them a doubt of what happened. BUT this is not the first time. Yes Qatar might have porked the $500Mil but it is thru channels. Most likely, it is your tax dollars at work here...

      September 21, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. doug

    they seem angry about being locked up for two years but they are lucky to be alive iranian prisons have a bad reputation and it looks like they were well taken care of they shouldn't have been roaming around out their in the first place and none of this would have happend.

    September 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • david

      I agree 100%. dont put yourself in a bad situation if you are not prepared for the consequences.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jack

    America, your Mossad agents are idiots, we're sending them back.

    September 21, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. doug

    Must be nice to have a million to sav your stupid ass

    September 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. aljenks

    They should NOT have been hiking so close to Iran's border. They were kidnapped and held for a million dollar ransom.....plain and simple!

    September 21, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. yoda9999

    I'm an American and have been to Iraq and Iran in recent years. There are Westerners who like to travel there for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with politics. I was actually in Iran a few months after they were kidnapped by the Iranian govt. I agree it was dumb for them to be near the border. Borders are political conflict zones. It's safer to be in Baghdad or Tehran than near the border.
    I'm happy to see Oman pay the ransom for their release.

    September 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jeff6187

    I wonder how many of you have actually been following this in any detail. Your uninformed postings (rantings) show bitter self absorbed people with nothing better to do than bash three students who had to live a two year nightmare. These students are Americans. Why would any of you be surprised that Iran would target them and use them as pawns. This is a typical case of blame the victim: something lazy thoughtless people do exceeding well at. What happened to these young people is wrong. There is no way around it, no rationalization that makes it not so.

    Grow some grey matter, and muster up some compassion. This is a great day to be celebrated.

    September 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • yoda9999

      Jeff, I agree. We are still quite an isolationist people.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ashrakay

    Am I the only one that thinks these kids actually DO look like spies?

    September 21, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff6187

      You people are collectively amazing. They're either rich shallow brats who are stupid, or spies. I have it on the best authority that they're also responsible for all of the Kennedy killings, the current recession, and several child abductions.

      News Flash: They're victims. They were kidnapped. Americans were treated disgracefully. Hopefully some day some of you will get the fact that politicians look for our reaction to this. What they see gives them great incentive and encouragement to do this again to more Americans. They laugh at us because we don't even care about our own. Good job!

      September 21, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • yoda9999

      Ash...CIA doesn't hire Americans as spies. As handlers or case officers, yes, but not as spies. Spies over there must be Iranian or Iraqi citizens. The real world of espionage has very little resemblance to what see in movies. You can read Bob Baers books about his life recruiting spies in foreign countries.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ashrakay

      In fairness, I never said they were spies, only that they look like spies. That being said though, I still wouldn't trust anything I read about what a spy is or how they are recruited. Valarie Plame was actually a US spy, let's not forget.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bkishere

    These guys have learned nothing. Flapping their gums about injustice before they even arrive in US airspace. Just kiss the ground and STFU.

    September 21, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rick

    I just hope that no tax money was given to release these two dummies. The same is true for all sail people that get caught by pirates in Somalia. They all should read and watch TV news before taking their stupid trips. Once for all, we should not sail around by Somalia cause we can get arrested by pirates or take trips to hostile countries, or to near the border of these hostile countries because all they want is an excuse to get Americans arrested, these includes Iran, Iraq, Venezuela and few others. Also Mexico now is very dangerous cause of the traffic war. So be careful before getting your passport to go abroad.

    September 21, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • yoda9999

      we might have to pay oman a political price. but its not such a big deal since oman hosts shore leave and such.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jdoe

    If they weren't near the border and were kidnapped, some people will still find a reason to call them names in order to feel better about themselves.

    September 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. HikerRick

    I wonder if these guys would be up for going on a hike throughout the middle east with my group. We'd love to hear their story firsthand. Leaving next week!

    September 21, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • yoda9999

      stay away from the borders 🙂

      September 21, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Shawn McFadden

    Glad to see that these guys finally got released. However, this does not change the fact they had absolutely had no buisness being in that region in the first place. I was in Iraq from 2003 to 2004 during my time in the Army. It was a hostile place then it still is now. These guys should consider themselves lucky they weren't executed. Who in their right mind would go there to do some hiking knowing full well that Americans aren't liked by anyone over there??? I'm begining to suspect that these two, and the lady, were CIA, and got caught. I have no proof of course, but why else would anyone be there in the first place>

    September 21, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • yoda9999

      Shawn, they were in Kurdistan 5 years after you liberated the place. I was there last year, and didn't meet anyone who hated America.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. kevin

    I wonder how long it will take for the book and movie to come out

    September 21, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gat

    understandably, the iranian government found it hard to believe anyone would want to vacation anywhere near their vile country

    September 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
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