Wed September 21, 2011
Developing: Iran Has Released Jailed Americans, State TV Says
Two American men jailed as spies in Iran since 2009 have been released, Iran's official Press TV reports.
The news site says it "has learned" that news.
Its report follows word from The Associated Press that attorney Masoud Shafiei said a court has approved a $1 million bail-for-freedom deal for the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal.
As we reported last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told NBC News that Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal would be released "in two days." Then the country's Judiciary "rejected recent media reports on the imminent release of the two American nationals that were convicted of spying on behalf of the United States." And a judge who needed to sign off on the deal couldn't be reached because he was on vacation.
Now, apparently, the final details have been worked out.
Bauer, Fattal and a third American, Sarah Shourd, were arrested in July 2009 when they crossed from Iraq into Iran. They were hiking and say they got lost. Iran accused and convicted them of spying.
Shourd was released last year after payment of a $500,000 "bail." Then all three were convicted of spying (Shourd did not return to Iran for the trial).
Update at 10:10 a.m. ET: The Associated Press says its reporters just "saw a convoy of vehicles with Swiss and Omani diplomats leaving Evin prison Wednesday with the freed Americans inside."
Update at 9:15 a.m. ET: Reuters says a lawyer for the men now says their release is "minutes or hours" away, which may mean that paperwork and final interviews with Iranian authorities are still in the works.
Update at 7:25 a.m. ET: Press TV now adds that "Branch 36 of Tehran's Appeals Court has agreed to reduce the detention sentences of the two US nationals and instead release them on a bail of $500,000 each, a statement released by Iran's Judiciary said on Wednesday."
They had been sentenced to eight years each in prison.