Freed American Hikers Describe Iran Prison Ordeal

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The two American hikers recently freed from an Iranian prison spoke about their two-year ordeal at a Manhattan press conference, just hours after their plane landed at Kennedy International Airport.

Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, imprisoned on charges of spying in Iran, arrived in the U.S. on Sunday.

"After 781 days of prison, Shane and I are now free men," a jubilant Fattal said.

"Hostage is the most accurate term, because despite certain knowledge of our innocence, the Iranian government has tied our case to its political disputes with the us," he said.

Fattal, Bauer, and Sarah Shourd were arrested after crossing the Iran-Iraq border while hiking in 2009. Fattal said they simply got lost when they wandered into Iranian territory.

Shourd, who is engaged to Bauer, was released last year for medical reasons.

Fattal and Bauer were sentenced to eight years in prison by an Iranian court. They described their experience of being held in an Iranian prison to reporters.

"Many times, too many times, we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten and there was nothing we could do to help them," Fattal said.

"How can we forgive the Iranian government when it continues to imprison so many other innocent people and prisoners of conscience?" Bauer added.

Bauer was himself beaten and Fattal was forced down a flight of stairs, according to Shourd.

The two men said they were surprised last week when a diplomatic envoy for Oman arrived at the prison saying, "Let's go home."

The pair were freed last week under a $1 million bail deal. They arrived Wednesday in Oman, greeted by relatives and Shourd.

The men's families told the Associated Press on Sunday that they don't know who paid the bail.

Iran's Foreign Ministry called their release a gesture of Islamic mercy.


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