Hikers: We Were Hostages


American hikers Josh Fattal (R) and Shane Bauer wave as they board a plane back to the USA at Muscat International airport on September 24, 2011. Bauer and Fattal were released on bail by an Iranian court after handing them hefty jail terms. The two men were released earlier on September 21, from Tehran's Evin prison, after more than two years in jail for spying and illegal entry into Iran. Bauer and Fattal were arrested along with Shourd near the mountainous border with Iraq on July 31, 2009. All three have consistently maintained they innocently strayed into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region. Shourd was released last year on humanitarian and medical grounds.

The two American hikers freed last week from Iran finally came home to the U.S. Sunday. Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer boarded a flight from Oman, the state that helped mediate their release after they spent more than two years in prison, and landed in New York in the late morning. In a news conference, the hikers said that they were held hostage because of their nationality, and not their actions. Iran arrested them in 2009 for crossing its border and accused them of spying. The two were released under a $1 million bail deal and arrived in Oman on Wednesday, where they were reunited with joyful relatives. "Just hours after we left prison, we were able to swim in the calm waters of the Gulf," Fattal said. "We stayed up all night with our loved ones and watched the most beautiful sunrise we have ever seen."