President Obama said today that the release of the two American hikers imprisoned in Iran for the past two years was “wonderful, wonderful news.”
“We are thrilled. And I could not feel better for the families and those moms we’ve been in close contact with,” the president said today in New York City. “A wonderful day for them and for us.”
Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal landed in Oman this afternoon and sprinted down the airplane steps to the embrace of their families and their long-awaited freedom. The release of the hikers comes after nearly 26 months of unfaltering advocacy by their families, careful diplomatic negotiations, and months of political infighting in Iran as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad argued with his own judiciary over their release, which was twice delayed.
“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 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,” Obama said in a written statement.
The hikers’ release, which came at a cost of $500,000 bail for each, was carefully negotiated by Omani and Swiss diplomats. The two men, along with their companion Sarah Shourd, were arrested and accused of spying in 2009 while hiking along an unmarked border with Iraq. Shourd also landed in Oman when she was freed from Iran one year ago.
“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,” Obama said.