Posted at 2:57 PM on September 21, 2011
by Paul Tosto
After two-plus years in Iranian custody, Minnesota native Shane Bauer and his friend Josh Fattal are free today after a court OK'd a $1 million bail deal, transporting them in just a few hours from a notorious Iranian prison to freedom.
It's a story Minnesotans have been following intently given Bauer's local ties -- he grew up in Onamia. His family has been on the local news regularly pleading their son's case. And who could forget the images of the mothers embracing their imprisoned children?
For Bauer and Fattal, the news today was all good. We've been following the story all day. Here's what we know.
History. The Iranians arrested Bauer, Fattal and a third friend, Sara Shourd, in July 2009 on the mountainous border with Iraq, accusing the three of being spies, a charge they denied. It set off a daily campaign by their families to get them out. Shourd was released earlier in the year.
Insider's view. Ex-diplomat William Miller helped negotiate the release of Fattal and Bauer. He was on The Takeaway radio program this morning with some detail on how it came about.
Click on the play button to listen:
Said Miller: "The most important part was the families."
Touchdown Oman. They arrived in Oman about an hour ago, though confusion seemed to reign early in the day.
Several times news media reported prematurely that Bauer and Fatal were on their way to the Tehran airport, then on the plane and gone. The power struggle between rival Iranian factions seemed like it would snag the pair once again. Eventually, they were in the air and the families celebrated the "best of their lives."
"Bail" and justice. Two questions linger that our readers and others in social media continue to care about: Who paid the $1 million total "bail" for Bauer and Fattal, is it more ransom than bail, and did the hikers deserve to be punished?
The Sultan of Oman appears to be the guy who paid the $1 million as well as the other $500,000 for Shourd's release.
MPR News blogger Bob Collins sparked a good reader discussion this morning on the responsibility of the three young hikers to know whether they were in Iran or Iraq while hiking and that they deserved their fate for being careless. He called it the "serves 'em right society."
What happens next? Don't expect Bauer or Fattal to hit the Tonight Show.
Former Iranian detainee Roxana Saberi tells MPR News it may take some time for the pair to adjust to being free.
Got an insight on the hiker trial or what happened today? Drop us a line.
Minnesota Today editor Michael Olson put together this stream of local and national stories on Bauer. Check it out.
I am glad they have been released. However, who it their right mind would go 'hiking' along the border of Iraq and Iran? Just think before doing. Really.
I guess we should be happy they're back. Since someone (probably US taxpayers ultimately, although laundered by Oman) has paid 1.5 million to get them all back, perhaps we could get an explanation as to why three seemingly intelligent people got themselves into this situation. I refuse to believe that they didn't know they had entered Iran.