By Alicia M. Cohn - 09/21/11 08:28 PM EDT
President Obama on Wednesday welcomed the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal from Iranian prison. The two American hikers, who were imprisoned for two years, ran off a plane into the arms of their parents, siblings, and one fiancé at the Royal Airport in Oman earlier in the day.
“The tireless advocacy of their families over these two years has won my admiration, and is now coming to an end with Josh and Shane back in their arms,” Obama said in the statement released by the White House.
He also thanked the Sultan of Oman, where the hikers landed safely Wednesday afternoon, the Iraqi president, the Swiss government, and the others who helped secure the hikers’ release.
The two hikers, along with Sarah Shourd, fiancée of Bauer, were arrested in 2009 while hiking in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan and charged with espionage and illegally crossing Iran's border. Their release, which coincides with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the U.S. for the United Nations General Assembly, was secured after Iranian courts approved an $1 million bail arrangement. Shourd was released in 2010 on humanitarian grounds and was also at the airport to meet the two when they landed in Oman, according to MSNBC.