Sept. 21 - Iran releases two American men accused of spying. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Released on Bail. Two American men held as spies in Iran for more than two years left their Tehran jail Wednesday, accompanied by Omani officials. Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have been in Iranian custody since their arrest on July 31, 2009 on the border with Iraq where they say they were hiking. The pair were found guilty of illegal entry and espionage last month and sentenced to eight years in prison, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last week they would be released on compassionate grounds, as had happened to Sarah Shourd, who was arrested with the men but freed on $500,000 last September. Ahmadinejad's announcement that the men would be freed was seen by analysts as an attempt to improve his international standing before the U.N. General Assembly where his annual interventions regularly outrage the West. The U.S. government denies that the three Americans were spies and their supporters say that no evidence against them has been made public. Their trial was held behind closed doors. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.