Iran’s autocratic regime today freed two American hikers that it has held in prison for more than two years in a move it called a “humanitarian gesture”.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both twenty-nine, were allowed to leave Iran’s infamous Evin prison and taken by a diplomatic caravan to an Iranian airport. They were then flown to the Sultanate of Oman, which helped secure their release. There, they were met by their families.
“We now all want nothing more than to wrap Shane and Josh in our arms, catch up on two lost years and make a new beginning, for them and for all of us,” the families said in a joint message distributed to the press.
President Barack Obama hailed the news.
“I welcome the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal from detention in Iran and am very pleased that they are being reunited with their loved ones,” the President said in a just-released statement. “The tireless advocacy of their families over these two years has won my admiration, and is now coming to an end with Josh and Shane back in their arms. All Americans join their families and friends in celebrating their long-awaited return home.”
“We are deeply grateful to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the Swiss government, and to all our partners and allies around the world who have worked steadfastly over the past two years to secure the release of Shane and Josh,” added the President.
“It is a welcome – if long overdue – step that the Iranian authorities have finally seen sense and released Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal,” agreed Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, who serves as Amnesty International Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa. Sahraoui pointed out that the Iranian regime has held the two men for more than two years for no good reason.
“All available evidence strongly suggests that the Iranian authorities have known all along that these men were not spies and should have been released. They should now release all prisoners of conscience held simply for peacefully expressing their views,” Sahraoui said in a statement posted to Amnesty’s website.
More information about Shane, Josh, and their ordeal is available at FreeTheHikers.org, a website set up to chronicle their plight and explain how they came to be in the clutches of the Iranian regime in the first place.
We at NPI join President Obama in thanking everyone who worked to secure Josh and Shane’s release. We are glad to know that they will be now be able to return to freedom here in the United States. Hopefully, when they feel up to it, they’ll be willing to share their story with their countrymen and give us a better idea of what happens to people that Iran’s regime arbitrarily decides to throw in jail.