US & Canada

Hikers Bauer and Fattal back in US after Iran release

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Media captionJosh Fattal: "We heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten"

Two Americans released by Iran have returned home after spending more than two years in jail on spying charges for allegedly crossing from Iraq.

At a news conference, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, both 29, reiterated that they were innocent, and said they been detained because of their nationality.

They were released by Iran last week under a $1m bail deal and flew to Oman.

Since their arrest in 2009, they have insisted they had been hiking. Fellow hiker Sarah Shourd was freed last year.

During the news conference in New York, Mr Fattal and Mr Bauer took turns reading statements, surrounded by relatives and with Ms Shourd at their side.

Mr Bauer said their detention was "never about crossing the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq."

Mr Fattal said: "From the very start, the only reason we have been held hostage is because we are American. Iran has always tied our case to its political disputes with the US."

Engagement

The two were sentenced earlier in September to eight years in prison on charges of spying.

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Media captionShane Bauer: 'We were held because of our nationality'

Iran's judiciary reportedly set each bail at five billion rials ($500,000; ). A similar amount had been posted last year for the release of Ms Shourd last year on humanitarian grounds.

She had become engaged to Mr Bauer while they were in prison.

The trio were arrested in July 2009 after travelling to the Kurdistan region of Iraq. They were held by Iranian troops who told them they were in Iranian territory.

The case heightened tensions between the US and Iran.

US President Barack Obama said last week that he was "very pleased" by their release.

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