Sept. 25 - The American hikers say they are savoring their freedom after years of isolation in an Iranian prison. Rough Cut. (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION Two Americans convicted in Iran of spying and jailed mainly in isolation for more than two years arrived in New York on Sunday (Sept, 25) saying they were innocent and had been held hostage simply because of their nationality. Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer -- who were arrested with their friend Sarah Shourd while hiking along the Iraq-Iran border in July 2009 -- were freed on Wednesday after Oman paid bail of $1 million. Shourd was released on $500,000 bail a year ago. Fattal and Bauer were sentenced to eight years in prison last month after a trial held behind closed doors. Washington denied that the group were spies and U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday they should never have been detained. In remarks prepared for delivery at a news conference in New York later on Sunday, Bauer and Fattal said the case against them had been a "total sham" and made up of lies. Fattal said that during their 781 days in jail they had 15 minutes of telephone calls with their families and one short visit from their mothers. He said they had staged repeated hunger strikes over demands that they be given letters sent by their families. "Many times, too many times, we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten and there was nothing we could do to help them. Solitary confinement was the worst experience of our lives," Fattal said. Bauer said that whenever they complained about their conditions the prison guards would remind them of the conditions at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where terrorism suspects are held, and at secret CIA prisons. "We do not believe that such human rights violations on the part of our government justify what has been done to us. Not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments, including the government of Iran, to act in kind," Bauer said. Bauer and Fattal's release coincided with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York for the U.N. General Assembly. He described the release as a humanitarian gesture.