American Hikers Freed in Iran, $1M Payment Made by Oman

Two American hikers jailed for “spying” in Iran have finally been released after two years in incarceration in an Iranian prison.

Americans Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were arrested in July 2009 for apparently crossing an unmarked border between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran. They were each sentenced to eight years in prison by the Iranian authorities.

However, both men have now been released after the Iranian court approved a $500,000 bail for each prisoner to secure their freedom. They were handed over to an Oman envoy on Wednesday and were immediately taken out of the country.

A third American, Sarah Hourd, was also arrested with the two men two years ago, but she was freed last year on bail.

All three hikers have maintained their innocence and have denied the espionage charges against them.

The two men, who are both 29 years old, left the prison compound just minutes after their Iranian attorney, Masoud Shafiei, said he had finished the paperwork for their release.

The lawyer told AFP news agency that the bail funds had been provided by the state of Oman, a U.S. Gulf ally which has also maintained good relations with Iran.

"Immediately after their release, the two American nationals left for Mehrabad airport," the official Irna news agency has reported.

The two were held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Initial reports have indicated that they will soon head home to California.