American Hikers Freed by Iran Returning to U.S.

Posted September 24th, 2011 at 4:00 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Two American hikers released by Iran earlier this week after spending more than two years in prison on spy charges will return to the United States Sunday.

Iranian authorities released Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer on Wednesday on a $1 million bail payment. They initially traveled to Oman which played a role in their release and where they spent three days with relatives. Also on hand was Sarah Shourd, their fellow hiker who was freed on $500,000 bail last year and returned to the United States.

Before leaving for the U.S., the two made separate statements at Muscat International Airport.

Josh Fattal thanked Oman for welcoming him and Shane Bauer and for hosting their families. He also thanked the U.S. Ambassador Richard Schmierer and his wife for their hospitality. He added that, hopefully, he will return to Oman one day, but that for now he is eager to go home.

Shane Bauer said that getting off the plane that brought them to Oman was the most incredible experience of their lives. He said he will never forget the excitement of seeing their loved ones and the joy of embracing them after so long will stay with them forever. He added that he will always be grateful to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said of Oman for his work to secure their release and thanked his envoy, Dr. Salem Al Ismaily for his selfless efforts to make their freedom a reality.

Iranian authorities detained Fattal, Bauer and Shourd on July 31, 2009, along the Iran-Iraq border and charged them with illegally crossing into the country. Last month, an Iranian court sentenced them to eight years in prison on charges of spying and illegally entering the country.

The trio has always proclaimed their innocence and said they were hiking in the mountains of northern Iraq while on vacation. They said that if they crossed the unmarked border into Iran, it was by mistake.