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UC Berkeley Graduates Detained in Iran Expected to Return to U.S. Today

By Bay City News
Sunday September 25, 2011 - 11:13:00 AM

Two University of California at Berkeley graduates who were detained in Iran on espionage charges for more than two years are expected to return to the United States today, after spending three days in Oman following their release from Iran. 

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, released written statements from Oman Saturday before boarding a plane bound for New York with their families. 

"We are eager to go home at last," Fattal said, who was joined on his flight home by his mother and father, Laura and Jacob Fattal, and his brother, Alex Fattal.  

Bauer's family boarded the plane with him as well, including his mother and father, Cindy Hickey and Al Bauer, and his fiancie, Sarah Shourd, 33, who was arrested with Bauer and Fattal but released last year. 

"Getting off the plane that brought us [to Oman] three days ago was the most incredible experience of our lives. We will never forget the excitement of seeing our loved ones waiting for us at the foot of the plane," Bauer said. 

Bauer, Fattal and Shourd were arrested on July 31, 2009, after embarking on a hike in Iraq's Kurdistan region near the Iranian border. 

Iran accused all three of them of espionage and last month Bauer and Fattal were sentenced to eight years in prison. 

But the hikers and their families said they aren't spies but instead were detained after they accidentally crossed an unmarked border into Iran. 

Iran released Shourd last September because she was in poor health. Shourd announced in May that she would not return to Iran for a trial because she is suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Shourd and family members of Bauer and Fattal greeted the two men in Muscat, Oman, when they arrived there after being released and flown out of Iran.