In what appeared to be a political maneuver timed to coincide with a UN address by its president, Iran freed two Americans it had held for the last two years. Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal (photo), and a third American, Sarah Shourd, had been arrested in 2009 while reportedly hiking along the Iran-Iraq border. Bauer and Fattal were later convicted of espionage, a move designed to set up an ultimate swap of the pair — with payment of $500,000 “bail” for each man.
ForeignPolicy.com reported that Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on September 22, “and the release of Bauer and Fattal may have been a gesture of goodwill before the speech.” Foreign Policy explained that “Ahmadinejad had signaled last week that Bauer and Fattal would be granted a pardon, but the Americans’ release was delayed by Iranian political infighting and the fact that one of the judges in their case was on vacation. The government of Oman reportedly paid $1 million in bail for the hikers.”
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Photo: U.S. hikers Shane Bauer, left, and Josh Fattal, attend their trail in Iran: AP Images