Freed US Hikers United with Loved Ones

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One day after being freed from an Iranian prison, two American hikers are spending their first day of freedom with their families Thursday.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were flown to Oman and reunited with their loved ones Wednesday after their attorney successfully obtained the signatures of two judges on a $1 million bail-for-freedom deal.

"We are so happy we are free, and so relieved we are free," Fattal said.

"Two years in prison is too long, and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran," Bauer added.

Bauer's fiancée, Sarah Shourd, was among those waiting to greet the men.

Shourd was arrested along with Bauer and Fattal in 2009 when the trio crossed into Iran while hiking along its shared border with Iraq.

The three were later sentenced to eight years in prison for espionage - a charge they've vehemently denied.

Iran's foreign minister said the men's release was a gesture of Islamic mercy.
Meanwhile, the men's families say that yesterday was the best day of their lives and they're ready to make up for lost time.

"We have waited for nearly 26 months for this moment and the joy and relief we feel at Shane and Josh's long-awaited freedom knows no bounds," the hikers' family members said in a joint statement Wednesday.

"We now all want nothing more than to wrap Shane and Josh in our arms, catch up on two lost years and make a new beginning, for them and for all of us," they added.
The men will stay in Oman for a few days to recuperate before flying back to the U.S.

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