American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were released yesterday after over two years in Iranian prison on allegations of trespassing and spying for the US. Fattal and Bauer were arrested, along with travelling companion Sarah Shroud, while hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan in July 2011. On August 20, 2011, Fattal and Bauer were sentenced to eight years in prison. The American hikers were released yesterday on $500,000 bail and taken to Oman where they were reunited with their families.
Some analysts believe that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad strategically announced the release of Fattal and Bauer just weeks before his visit to New York for the annual UN General Assembly in order to receive a warmer welcome by the US and project a noble and gracious image among fellow world leaders at the UN. Others believe it was a tactical move in the ongoing political feud between Ahmadinejad and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Ahamenei. Only a day after his announcement, the Iranian judiciary denied the president's statement and said the hikers' release was 'not imminent.'
Democracy Now's Amy Goodman interviews Shon Meckfessel, who was also travelling with the trio in 2009, but who stayed at the hotel the morning of their hike because of a cold.