Iran Frees U.S. Hikers

Americans hikers Shane M. Bauer, left, and Joshua F. Fattal, who spent about two years behind bars in Iran after being caught while hiking along the border with Iraq, had been released by Iranian authorities in Tehran on September 21. The two men, both aged 29, would be transported home by air after the state of Oman sent a plane to Iran for the purpose. Their lawyer, Masoud Shafiei, told journalists that Swiss diplomats will take care of the two men after the United States and Iran closed their diplomatic relations some time ago.

Iran U.S. Hikers

Earlier, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his nation would free the Americans in unprecedented humanitarian gesture on the eve of his arrival in New York where he will attend this week’s United Nations General Assembly meeting. Following his statement, an Iranian court declined to free the Americans but a few days later the judiciary had approved the release of the bikers. Foreign correspondents commented that both steps, Ahmadinejad’s statement and judiciary’s behavior are part of a carefully prepared strategy to demonstrate there is working democracy and independent judiciary system in Iran.

The U.S. hikers have been found guilty in spying and trespassing and have been sentenced to eight years in jail. In September 2010, a third hiker, Sarah E. Shourd, was released on bail of $500,000. The same procedure will be applied in the case of the two men who also should pay bail of $500,000 each, according to their lawyer.

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