In what may have been a piece of political stagecraft, Iran announced the release of the two UC Berkeley-grad hikers they've been holding prisoner for two years just moments before President Barack Obama addressed the UN General Assembly today. Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were flown out of Tehran to the Omanian capital of Muscat as evening fell in the Middle East Wednesday. From there, they will fly out to the U.S. They were released on $1 million bail, per an earlier announced agreement.

CBS makes the comparison of the Iranians' timing to the release of 52 American hostages in January 1981 mere minutes after the inauguration of Ronald Reagan.

Assuming Fattal and Bauer, along with previously freed companion Sarah Shourd, were not in fact working for the CIA (which several SFist commenters have asserted in the past), this should serve as a lesson to naive American youths who think hiking in the reportedly lovely mountains of northern Iraq, dangerously close to the Iranian border, sounds like a good idea. You might just lose two years of your life in an Iranian prison!

Shourd has been living in Oakland since her release last year, and it is unclear when she and Bauer will make good on their plans to marry.


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