• 16:55
  • Tuesday ,13 September 2011

Iran to free US hikers jailed for spying - Ahmadinejad


International News


Tuesday ,13 September 2011

Iran to free US hikers jailed for spying - Ahmadinejad

Two Americans jailed for spying in Iran will be released in two days, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has told US media.

Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were imprisoned for eight years last month.
The pair, in custody since their arrest in July 2009, had claimed they strayed into Iran accidentally while hiking near the border.
An Iranian judge told the BBC he would release the men on payment of $500,000 (£316,000) bail each.
Mr Ahmadinejad revealed the news in an interview with NBC's Today show.
In a separate interview with the Washington Post, the Iranian president described the release as a "unilateral pardon" and a "humanitarian gesture".
'No intelligence link'
Mr Ahmadinejad has previously stressed the independence of Iran's judiciary.
He added that the men would be "free to choose" how they returned to the US.
The case had heightened tensions between the US and Iran, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying she was "deeply disappointed" by the sentences.
US President Barack Obama had denied the men had any link to the country's intelligence organisations.
Their expected release comes ahead of Mr Ahmadinejad's expected trip to New York for a meeting of the UN General Assembly on 22 September.
US officials said they were working with Swiss envoys, who represent US interests in Iran, to confirm the men's status, having had no independent confirmation of the release terms.
The bail sum is the same as set for the release of Mr Bauer's fiancee, Sarah Shourd, 32, who was arrested with the two men.
Ms Shourd, a teacher, writer and women's rights activist, was freed in September 2010 on humanitarian and medical grounds. She did not return to face trial, saying she had suffered post-traumatic stress and would find going back to Iran "too traumatic".
'Holiday hike'
The couple had lived in the Syrian capital Damascus after meeting while organising demonstrations against the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Mr Fattal, an environmentalist and teacher, had travelled to Damascus in 2009 to visit his friends.
The trio - all graduates of the University of California, Berkeley - had gone to Iraqi Kurdistan for a week's holiday. They had visited the tourist village of Ahmed Awa, and hiked along a trail local residents had recommended, Ms Shourd said.
While out walking they were stopped and arrested by Iranian troops who told them they were in Iranian territory.