Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, American travelers who spent two years of an eight-year sentence in Iran's notorious Evin prison for hiking near the wrong border at the wrong time, were back on U.S. soil on Sunday. The two men, both 29, emerged from their plane on the JFK tarmac at 11 a.m. surrounded by loved ones, including Sarah Shourd, the third hiker arrested with them (and Bauer's fiancee), who was released in September 2010. Bauer and Fattal later delivered statements at a press conference, but took no questions.
Calling their lives in solitary confinement a "world of lies and false hope" — their captors even claimed that their families had stopped writing to them — Fattal said the release came as a complete surprise:
On Wednesday, he said, they had just finished their brief daily open-air exercise and expected, as on other days, to be blindfolded and led back to their 8- by 13-foot cell. Instead, the prison guards took them downstairs, fingerprinted them and gave them civilian clothes. They weren't told where they were going.
The guards led them to another part of the prison, where they met a diplomatic envoy from Oman. His first words to them? "Let's go home."