(JTA) — Two American hikers who were imprisoned in Iran two years ago after they strayed across the border were released on bail.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were released from a Tehran prison Wednesday into the custody of officials from Oman, who took them straight to the airport, according to reports.
The two men, both 29, were each released on $500,000 bail. They have been held in prison on charges of being spies since they, and a third hiker, were arrested on July 31, 2009 after crossing over to Iran from Iraq during a hike. Sarah Shourd was released a year ago for the same bail on medical grounds.
All three have denied the spy charges. The men were sentenced to eight years in prison; the conviction and sentence are being appealed.
Shourd and Bauer are engaged to be married. All three are graduates of the University of California, Berkeley, and were studying and traveling in the Middle East before they were arrested.
It is suspected that they have been granted bail now in order to soften up the international community as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. The Iranian judiciary delayed the release for a week in an apparent power struggle with Ahmadinejad.