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(MUSCAT, Oman) -- Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, the two U.S. hikers imprisoned in Iran for the past two years, sprinted to freedom Wednesday down the steps of a Royal Omani Air Force jet onto a tarmac in Muscat, Oman.

Looking healthy and upbeat, they were greeted by family and friends in an emotional scrum of smiles, hugs and tears, and a long kiss between Bauer and his fiancee, Sarah Shourd, a fellow American prisoner in Iran until one year ago this week.

"We are so happy we are free and so relieved we are free," Fattal, detained in Iran since 2009, told reporters upon arriving. "Our deepest gratitude to his majesty [Omani King] Sultan Qaboos [bin Said Al Said] for obtaining our release. We are sincerely grateful to the government of Oman for hosting us and our families."

Fattal, Bauer and Shourd were arrested two years ago while hiking along Iran's unmarked border with Iraq. They were accused of spying, and last month Fattal and Bauer were sentenced to eight years in prison.

"Two years in prison is too long," Bauer told reporters, "and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran."

The hikers' families have described the freeing of Bauer and Fattal as "the best day of our lives."

President Obama also hailed the development.

"I welcome the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal from detention in Iran and am very pleased that they are being reunited with their loved ones," Obama said in a written statement. "The tireless advocacy of their families over these two years has won my admiration, and is now coming to an end with Josh and Shane back in their arms. All Americans join their families and friends in celebrating their long-awaited return home."

The men's release ends two years of diplomatic wrangling and, more recently, weeks of political infighting, as Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the country's judiciary argued about freeing the Americans.

Bauer and Fattal were released after an Iranian judge who had twice delayed their release signed an order Wednesday to free the men following deposits of $500,000 bail each.

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Elkins Park hiker Josh Fattal recounts time in Iranian prison

(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two Americans hikers who have been jailed in Iran for over two years, could be released as early as Wednesday.

The news comes as a second judge signed their release order on Wednesday. The day before, the judge had not returned from vacation and was not at court when the hikers' lawyer, Masoud Shafii, showed up for the signature.

Shafii told ABC News the only thing left to process now is the $500,000 bail for each of his clients, which could be completed in a matter of hours.

Bauer and Fattal have been detained in Iran since July 31, 2009 for espionage. After crossing an unmarked border while hiking in northern Iraq, Iranian authorities claimed the two had illegally crossed over into their territory and charged them with spying for the U.S.

Sarah Shourd and Shane Bauer, US hikers jailed in Iran …

(TEHRAN, Iran) -- After being held in Iran for more than two years on espionage charges, American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were finally released from jail on Wednesday.

The two will now be handed over to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which handles American interests in Iran since the U.S. doesn't have an embassy there, before they are flown back to the U.S.

Earlier Wednesday, Bauer and Fattal's attorney, Masoud Shafii, got the second judge's signature -- needed on their release order -- paving the way for their combined $1 million bail to be processed.

The hikers' release marks a public relations victory for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly. Ahmadinejad had hoped the two would be freed in time for his trip to the United Nations, and even promised their release last week.

Bauer and Fattal have been in Iran's Evin prison since July 31, 2009. Iranian authorities claimed the two had illegally crossed over into their territory while they were hiking in northern Iraq, and charged them with spying for the U.S.

Sarah Shourd, a third hiker and Bauer's fiancée, was also detained then but was released after posting $500,000 bail in September of 2010.

Even though she has been released from a 14-month confinement in an Iranian prison, American hiker Sarah Shourd still doesn’t feel free
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32-year-old American hiker, Sarah Shourd ..

(TEHRAN, Iran) -- One week after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two detained American hikers are still no closer to going home.

In yet another setback, the hikers' lawyer, Masoud Shafii, on Tuesday was unable to get the second signature required on their release order.

Shafii had been told the second judge -- needed to sign the document -- was back from vacation, but when Shafii showed up at court, the judge had still not returned. Shafii was then told not to come back until he's summoned by the court.

Ahmadinejad was hoping the release of Bauer and Fattal would be in congruence to his trip to the United Nations this week. The Iranian president is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.

The hikers' release would have been a public relations victory for Ahmadinejad, especially while he's on the world stage. But his political rivals in Iran are blocking it, and sources there tell ABC News it's unlikely the hikers will be released before he leaves New York at the end of this week.

Sep 26, 2011 · www

the US hiker mothers were finally given permission to ..