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Freed American hikers enjoy freedom in Oman

September 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The American hikers released from an Iranian prison spent their first full day of freedom in Oman on Thursday.

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were arrested in 2009 after crossing into Iran from Iraq. They say it was an accident, but a court convicted them of espionage.

Oman reportedly paid their $1 million bail. It also posted bail last year for Bauer's fiancee, Sara Shourd, who was the third hiker arrested at the same time.

Fattal and Bauer arrived at a royal airfield near the main international airport in Oman's capital, Muscat, on Wednesday, and their families were on the tarmac to greet them.

"We're so happy we are free," Fattal told reporters in a brief statement before leaving the airport.

"Two years in prison is too long," Bauer said, adding he hoped their release from prison will also bring "freedom for political prisoners in America and Iran."

They enjoyed a joyous reunion with their families in seclusion after being held for more than two years accused as spies.

American and Omani officials did not disclose details about when Fattal and Bauer plan to head home.

After Shourd was freed last September, she stayed for days in Oman before she flew to United States. Since her release last year, Shourd has lived in Oakland, California.

Shourd and Bauer had been living together in Damascus, Syria, where Bauer was working as a freelance journalist and Shourd as an English teacher. Fattal went to visit them in July 2009 shortly before their trip to northern Iraq.

Bauer grew up in Onamia, Minnesota. and Fattal, an environmental activist, is from suburban Philadelphia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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