Iran to pardon jailed US hikers
Americans will be freed when bail is paid:
IRAN: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Tehran
would soon release two US hikers convicted of spying but who claimed to
have accidentally strayed into the country.
“I am helping to arrange for their release in a couple of days so
they will be able to return home. This is, of course, going to be a
unilateral humanitarian gesture,” Ahmadinejad told The Washington Post.
“It is a unilateral pardon” of the hikers, the Iranian leader said.
In a separate interview with US network NBC News, Ahmadinejad said
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal whose jailing has further strained already
difficult relations between Washington and Tehran would be released “in
But their lawyer Masoud Shafii told AFP that they would be freed only
when bail, set at $500,000 for each of the men, had been paid.
“The Americans will be freed when the bail is paid,” their lawyer
told AFP, adding that the judiciary had informed him of its decision in
the middle of the day Tuesday and that he had yet to contact their
The news drew an optimistic response from the families of the hikers,
who were each sentenced to eight years in jail last month on charges of
espionage and illegal entry.
“While we do not have further details at this time, we are overjoyed
by the positive news reports from Iran,” said a statement issued by the
“Shane and Josh’s freedom means more to us than anything and it’s a
huge relief to read that they are going to be released,” the statement
said. “We’re grateful to everyone who has supported us and looking
forward to our reunion with Shane and Josh. We hope to say more when
they are finally back in our arms.”
A guarded US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “We have
followed this very closely and we are encouraged by what the Iranian
government has said today.”
“We obviously hope that we will see a positive outcome from what
appears to be a decision by the government.”
The Swiss mission, which looks after US interests in Iran, said
earlier Tuesday that it was not immediately able to confirm the Iranian
Ahmadinejad said in the interview with NBC’s “Today Show” program
that a decision had been made to pardon Bauer and Fattal despite the
court’s finding last month that the pair “illegally crossed our borders
and they were arrested by the border guards.”
But the Iranian leader suggested that freeing the men would do little
to improve bitter relations between Washington and Tehran.
“You know how many Iranians are now in the American jails?” he said.
“It’s not about only two people in Iran.
“These two people are having the very good condition here in prison.
It’s like staying in a hotel,” said Ahmadinejad. “I think the problem is
in the approach of the American politicians and leaders. Why the
American leaders are so hostile against us?” AFP