MUSCAT - The Gulf state of Oman has sent a plane to Iran for the expected release of two US citizens convicted of spying, and they could be freed within 24 hours, an Omani Foreign Ministry official said on Friday.
"We are still waiting for the final word about taking the Americans to Muscat with our plane now in Tehran. Hard to say when that will happen, perhaps in the next 24 hours, but we are hopeful it will happen soon," the official told Reuters, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a US TV interview aired on Tuesday that Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal would be freed in coming days in a humanitarian gesture before his trip to the United Nations in New York. But Iran's judiciary then said the release was not imminent. .
Oman dispatched the plane on Thursday after its ruler, Sultan Qaboos, received assurances from Iran about flying the two Americans to the Omani capital Muscat to be handed over to the US embassy, the Foreign Ministry official said.
Oman also helped facilitate the release of a third member of the group a year ago.