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Swiss ambassador "thankful" at hikers’ release


Two United States citizens jailed as spies in Iran two years ago have been released on bail and have left by air for Oman.

Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer were released from the notorious Evin prison and handed over to Swiss and Omani diplomats on Wednesday afternoon.

Their release came after a $1 million (SFr890,000) bail-for-freedom deal was approved by the Iranian courts. The Sultanate of Oman is reported to have paid the bail.

Switzerland’s ambassador to Iran, Livia Leu Agosti, told reporters as they left that she was “very, very grateful”.

She said the two were “OK”, so she was “very happy to see them”.

"It has been a very long time for them and we have done a lot of work and I'm very thankful for all those who have helped, in particularly the Omanis, of course.”

Switzerland has looked after US interests in Iran for some 30 years, as the US has no diplomatic relations with the country.

In a statement the US ambassador to Switzerland, Donald Beyer, thanked Switzerland for its “extensive engagement" on behalf of the men over the past two years.
 
“We are enormously grateful to the Swiss government for all its efforts on behalf of these two Americans,” Beyer said. 
 
“Switzerland has unfailingly represented US interests, intervening over and over on behalf of Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, demanding proper treatment, and contributing greatly to closing the chapter on these unwarranted charges.”

Fattal and Bauer were arrested along the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009 and sentenced to eight years in prison. A third member of the group, Sarah Shoud, was also arrested and released on a similar $500,000 bail deal last September.
 
The trio had maintained their innocence of the charges against them, saying they were hiking in northern Iraq’s scenic Kurdish region when they may have accidently strayed into Iran.

swissinfo.ch and agencies



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