New updates this morning in the case of the two UC Berkeley grads detained in Iran since accidentally crossing the Iranian border while hiking back in 2009. An Iranian court has set bail of $500,000 apiece for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, who were convicted last month of illegally entering Iranian territory and spying for U.S. intelligence forces and sentenced to 8 years in prison.

The pay-for-freedom arrangement is similar to a deal the Iranians cut for the release of Sarah Shourd, Bauer and Fattal's companion who was freed almost exactly a year ago.

The timing may not be entirely coincidental either. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been on a bit of a media blitz lately as he's scheduled to visit the United Nations general assembly in New York later this month. Shourd's release last year came just before Ahmadinejad made a similar visit to the States.

Ahmadinejad called the bail arrangement, "a unilateral pardon" in an interview with the Washington Post, although the release will only come after the U.S. arranges the $1 million dollar total payment which must be made through intermediaries due to American sanctions.

Here's Ahmadinejad, speaking with Today's Ann Curry in Tehran:

All UC Berkeley Hikers/Iran coverage on SFist.