Iran’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that “several world leaders” had mediated the release of two US hikers, freshly freed by Tehran after more than two years in jail on charges of spying and illegal entry.
Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were freed Wednesday on bail paid by Oman.
The were freed “due to Islamic compassion and in order to show respect for the mediation efforts made by several world leaders, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon… Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Oman’s Sultan Qaboos, as well as a number of religious figures,” media reports quoted the ministry as saying.
The statement said they were released “after the completion of the judicial process.”
Each was given an eight-year jail term in a preliminary sentence. Their Iranian lawyer then posted a bail motion while waiting for an appeals court decision.
The pair was arrested, along with fellow American Sarah 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.
Oman, a US Gulf ally which has good relations with Iran, agreed to pay bail of five billion rials ($400,000) for Fattal and Bauer.
Oman had also paid bail of $500,000 for the release of Shourd, the third hiker released last year on humanitarian and medical grounds.
Bauer and Fattal flew home to the United States after a brief stopover in Oman late Wednesday.