Iran Releases Jailed American Hikers
By Rizwan Khatik - Thu Sep 22, 4:36 am
Two American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, who were facing eight years in prison for alleged spying in Iran, have been freed today, state media reported. Accordingly, they were handed over to the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which represents US interests in Iran.
Their Iranian lawyer Masoud Shafiei couldn’t immediately confirm the release, but the Iranian news agency IRNA said they had left Tehran on a plane for the Omani capital of Muscat.
“I have got necessary signatures from judiciary officials for their release on bail. Hopefully the two will be freed today. There is no obstacle to their freedom now. It’s only a matter of time before they are out of jail”, Shafiei told the media early Wednesday.
Reportedly, they were freed on bail at five billion rials ($400,000).
The pair were arrested together with a third hiker, Sarah Shourd, in 2009 when they crossed to Iran from Iraq. Last month Bauer and Fattal were charged with eight years in prison for espionage and illegal entry, while Shourd was released in September last year, on bail on humanitarian and medical grounds.
The hikers, all three Berkley graduates and friends from college days, have maintained their innocence and denied the espionage charges against them. Their families also said they must have accidentally strayed over the unmarked border with Iran, as they were hiking through northern Iraq.
Bauer and Fattal spent more than two years in prison. Bauer proposed marriage to Shourd while in custody.