Video: Imprisoned hikers finally heading home

  1. Transcript of: Imprisoned hikers finally heading home

    LESTER HOLT, anchor: Two Americans released this week from an Iranian prison are on their way back to the US tonight after being held for more than two years as accused spies. NBC 's Michelle Kosinski joins us now from Oman where they spoke before boarding the flight home. Michelle , good evening.

    MICHELLE KOSINSKI reporting: Hi, Lester. Right now Shane Bauer and Josh Fatall are on a plane with their loved ones, as they just put it, "eager to go home at last." They've spent more than two years in prison convicted of spying and illegally entering Iran , which they deny, sentenced to eight years, but released with the help of Swiss diplomats and the Omani government, which paid their $1 million bail. They read statements just before leaving Oman .

    Mr. JOSH FATTAL (Freed American): Just hours after we left prison, we were able to swim in the calm waters of the gulf. We stayed up all night with our loved ones and we watched the most beautiful sunset we've ever seen.

    KOSINSKI: They would not answer a single question about their ordeal, but an Omani government source says the Americans described prison conditions as being bad all around except that the food was good. They were able to work out regularly in a gym. And medical checkups they had here show them to be

    healthy. Lester: Michelle Kosinski in Oman , thank you.


Image: Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd
Jumana El-Heloueh  /  Reuters
Shane Bauer, center, hugs fiancee Sarah Shourd, right, and another woman upon his arrival in Muscat, Oman, after his release from a prison in Iran.
updated 9/24/2011 4:47:43 PM ET 2011-09-24T20:47:43

Two Americans freed from an Iranian prison told reporters Saturday they were "eager to go home" just before boarding their flight to the U.S. from Oman, the Gulf state that helped mediate their release after more than two years in custody on accusations of spying.

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were scheduled to arrive home on Sunday, according to Samantha Topping, a spokeswoman for their families. The two were released from Tehran's Evin prison under a $1 million bail deal and arrived in Oman on Wednesday in the first leg of their journey home. There they were reunited with joyful relatives.

Iran's Foreign Ministry called their release a gesture of Islamic mercy.

Before boarding the plane in the Omani capital Saturday night, the men made brief statements and thanked Oman's ruler for helping secure their release.

"We hope to someday return to this wonderful country, but for now we are eager to go home at last," Fattal said.

Story: Freed US hikers spend 1st day of freedom secluded with kin

Sarah Shourd, who was arrested with the men along the Iran-Iraq border but released a year ago, was also in Oman and returning home with them and their families.

Bauer proposed marriage to Shourd while they were in jail.

The Americans denied the Iranian accusations and said they were just hiking in northern Iraq's scenic Kurdish region when they might have unknowingly crossed the unmarked border with Iran in July 2009.

Bauer told reporters Saturday that he won't forget the feeling of seeing their loved ones waiting for them in Oman.

"The joy of embracing them all after so long will stay with us forever," Bauer said.

The plane was due to depart shortly after their statements, but reporters were denied access to the airport runway to see the plane take off.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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