The two US hikers held in Iranian prison for two years, said that they were held hostage because they were American, reports ABC news. The two declared that it wasn’t their actions but rather their nationality that had caused them to be imprisoned, reports the Washington Post.
Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer spoke publicly about their imprisonment since regaining freedom last week, reports ABC news.
They each read from prepared statements in a New York City hotel explaining what had transpired in the prison, and thanked everyone who had fought for their release.
“Many times, too many times, we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten and there was nothing we could do to help them, Fattal said. “How can we forgive the Iranian government when it continues to imprison so many other innocent people and prisoners of conscience?”
Bauer also explained that they believed US policy toward Iran was the reason for both their arrest and detention, and that they opposed the policy.
“We hope someday to return to this wonderful country, but for now we eager to go home at last,” said Fattal.
They arrived in New York before noon. Sarah Shourd, their companion, was freed from Iran nearly a year ago to the day. She was in Oman to greet Fattal, and gave Bauer, her fiance, a long kiss. She had been in the same place when she was freed. Bauer proposed to her while they were imprisoned.
“We are so happy we are free and so relieved we are free,” Fattal told reporters upon arriving. “We are sincerely grateful to the government of Oman for hosting us and our families.”
The three were arrested when hiking along an unmarked border that Iran shares with Iraq. The three were accused of spying, and last year, Fattal and Bauer were sentenced to eight years in prison. They have maintained their innocence.
Relations between the U.S. and Iran were severed during the Iran Contra Affair, and since them both have tried to limit the other in the Middle East, reports the Washinton Post.