In the summer of 2009, Americans Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Joshua Fattal, went on an innocent hiking excursion in the Kurdish region of Iraq - only to accidentally end up across the Iranian border to be captured by soldiers at gunpoint, detained, tried, and imprisoned for espionage. They had been sentenced to prison for eight years as spies, while their families and supporters did everything they could to get them out. Shourd, the lone female of the trio, has been released last September by the Iranian government, but it wasn't until this past Wednesday that Bauer and Fattal were also released and reunited with their families after the 26-month ordeal.
Freedom isn't free
The release from Iran didn't come cheap; a $500,000 price for each of the remaining American prisoners had been determined in a Tehran court when Iranian President Ahmadinejad decided that the bail would be part of a "humanitarian gesture." Working on this pricey settlement was Masoud Shafii, their attorney in Iran, and diplomats from Switzerland and nearby Oman - an intermediary country that the United States government had to work with since they had cut diplomatic ties with Iran decades ago. After the $1M bail was paid, the two Americans, both UC Berkeley graduates, were released and flown to nearby Oman to reunite with their families. Needless to say, it was a moment of triumph and relief.