Academy Award winning actor and quasi-Bay Area resident Sean Penn helped get Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer released by visiting Hugo Chavez. Penn reportedly visited Venezuela months ago to talk about the UC Berkeley hiker's imprisonment with President Chavez, a pal of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

According to Reuters, "Penn's spokeswoman in the United States confirmed this account, but would give no further details."

Neither Fattal nor Bauer answered reporters questions upon their release, but they did make several statements:

"We're so happy we are free and so relieved we are free," Fattal said. "Our deepest gratitude goes toward His Majesty Sultan Qaboos of Oman for obtaining our release. We're sincerely grateful for the government of Oman for hosting us and our families."

Bauer took it a bit further, noting: "Two years in prison is too long and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran."