U.S. Hikers Reportedly Released on Bail From Iranian Prison

(Fox News) – The two American hikers jailed as spies in Iran were released Wednesday on bail into the custody of the Omani envoy in Tehran, Fox News reported.

The State Department said the release to Oman was granted for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. Their Iranian lawyer, Masoud Shafiei, who was en route to see the men Wednesday, could not immediately confirm their release but earlier said, “The case is over.”

They were arrested along the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009 and sentenced last month to eight years each in prison. A third American in the group, Sarah Shourd, was freed last year on bail.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who visited the United Nations in New York Tuesday, reconfirmed the country’s commitment to release the hikers.

“I did say within the next few days and I still say the same thing. And God willing they will be released very soon,” Ahmadinejad told ABC News.

Shafiei said the bail of $500,000 for each of the men was posted after some last-minute problems in the bank were resolved. He did not say what the source of the money was.

Last week, Oman dispatched a plane belonging to the Gulf country’s ruler to fetch the two Americans if the freedom-for-bail was reached.

Omani officials, who maintain good relations with both Iran and the U.S., declined to comment on the ongoing proceedings for the Americans’ release. They only said the private plane, sent from Muscat to the Iranian capital last Wednesday, was still in Tehran.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The three Americans — friends from their days at the University of California at Berkeley — have maintained their innocence and denied the espionage charges against them.

Their families say they were just hiking in northern Iraq’s scenic and relatively peaceful Kurdish region when they may have accidentally strayed over the unmarked border with Iran.

Since her release last year, Shourd has lived in Oakland, California. Bauer, a freelance journalist, grew up in Onamia, Minnesota, and Fattal, an environmental activist, is from suburban Philadelphia.

Bauer proposed marriage to Shourd while in prison.