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Ahmadinejad to pardon and release U.S. hikers

by Jorge Hernandez on September 13, 2011

Two American hikers who have been detained in Iran for two years will be pardoned and released, the nation's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told The Washington Post. The Americans were arrested and charged with espionage, and last month were sentenced to eight years in prison.

"I am helping to arrange for their release in a couple of days so they will be able to return home," Ahmadinejad told the news source during an hour-long interview. "This is of course going to be a unilateral humanitarian gesture." He said he hopes they can be released thsi week, but they will still be required to pay their bail.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, who were both 29 years old, were arrested two years ago while hiking along the Iran-Iraq border. They had a third companion, Sarah Shourd, who was released last September after posting a $500,000 bail.

A point of contention in this issue is the growing divide between President Ahmadinijad and the Muslim clerics who wield power in Iran. The clerics usually show more hostility toward the U.S. than Ahmadinijad himself, which may explain the harsh ruling against the two Americans, according to CBS.

Bail for the two men has been set at $500,000 as well, according to the pair's lawyer, Massoud Shaifei. In the meanwhile, their lawyer has contacted the Swiss Embassy, which is in charge of American's affairs in Tehran, as well as gotten in touch with the hikers' families. A third party will have to handle the payment of bail.

Officials in the U.S. are also in touch with the Swiss embassy to "get more details from Iranian authorities," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, according to CBS.

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