Released American hikers leave Oman for US

Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer head home from Oman after being released by Iran authorities; "We'll never forget excitement of seeing our loved ones."

By REUTERS
September 25, 2011 18:52
2 minute read.
US hikers Bauer and Fattal attend Tehran trial.

US hikers_311 reuters. (photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)

 
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Two US citizens sentenced in Iran to eight years in jail for spying left for the United States on Saturday from Oman, where they had landed after being released by Iranian authorities.

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who were arrested while hiking along the Iraq-Iran border in 2009 and denied being spies, flew to Oman two days ago, after officials there helped secure their release by posting bail of $1 million.

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"Being off the plane that brought us here three days ago was the most incredible experience of our lives. We will never forget the excitement of seeing our loved ones waiting for us at the foot of the plane," Bauer told reporters at Muscat airport, before he and Fattal left Oman for the United States.

"The joy of embracing them after so long will stay with us forever. We will always be grateful to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman for his work to secure our release. And we thank his envoy Doctor Salem al-Ismaily from the bottom of our hearts for his selfless efforts to make our freedom a reality," he said.

Fattal said the pair were keen to return home.

"Just hours after we left prison, we were able to swim in the calm waters of the Gulf. We stayed up all night with our loved ones and we watched the most beautiful sunset we have ever seen."



These experiences will be with us for the rest of our lives. We would like to thank Oman, for welcoming us and hosting our families. We would also like to thank the American ambassador Richard Schmierer and his wife Sandy for their hospitality. We hope some day to return to this wonderful country but for now, we are eager to get home at last," Fattal said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad agreed to their release last week, saying it was a humanitarian gesture before his annual trip to the UN General Assembly in New York.

Both were arrested in July 2009 near Iran's border with Iraq along with another American, Sarah Shourd. The trio, in their late 20s and early 30s, said they were hiking.

Shourd was released on $500,000 bail a year ago and allowed to fly home, but the two men were sentenced to eight years in prison last month after a trial held behind closed doors.


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