Iran releases American hikers

It’s been a long time coming, with many fits, starts and stops, but breaking reports indicate the Iran has finally released Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. The two hikers have languished in an Iranian jail for two years after accidentally straying over the border from Iraq and subsequently being charged with spying.

Tehran, Iran (CNN) — Two American hikers imprisoned as spies in Iran for more than two years were released on bail Wednesday, Iranian and U.S. officials said…

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, were convicted last month of entering Iran illegally and spying for the United States, and each sentenced to eight years in prison.

They have not yet been seen leaving Evin Prison, but their attorney, Masoud Shafiee, went into the facility earlier in the day with paperwork to show that the $500,000 bail had been paid for each of them.

Swiss and Omani officials are outside the prison waiting to receive the Americans. Switzerland represents United States interests in Iran because there is no American embassy there.

It’s nice of the Swiss to act as go-betweens and help us out with this, so they should receive our thanks.

As to why Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is doing this now, opinions vary. It’s true that he’s preparing to address the United Nations in New York this week and could use all of the good press he can summon up, so that probably played into the decision. But internal Iranian politics are in play as well. Rumors have been circulating for some time that unrest in his country has Ahmadinejad looking for a way to bolster his standing with younger, more moderate Iranians and create some daylight between himself and the senior clerics.

Of course, he couldn’t have made a decision like this on his own, but he’ll certainly try to spin it that way at home. But the important point today is that the Americans should be in the air presently. Hopefully this will bring some relief to their friends and families.