American hikers released, flown to Oman on first leg of trip home

By: Staff Email
By: Staff Email

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Two years of heartache for the families of two Americans held in Iran are over.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal left Iran today on a plane taking them to Oman. They were released on bail of $500,000 each -- an arrangement similar to the one that brought freedom last year for Sarah Shourd (shord).

The three were arrested near Iran's border with Iraq in 2009 and accused of spying. They say they were simply hiking.

Shortly before the release of the two Americans, their Iranian lawyer said he had completed the paperwork for the bail agreement.

Iran's state news agency says the two left Iran just as darkness fell in the capital. A plane had been standing by to take them to Oman.

The release came just minutes before President Barack Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly. There's no direct evidence that Iran timed it to overshadow the speech, but in the past, Iran has conducted that type of international political stagecraft.

For example, it was just moments after Ronald Reagan's presidential inauguration in 1981 that Iran freed 52 American hostages who had been held for 444 days.

(Copyright 2011, The Associated Press.)

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