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Iran promises US pair will go free

Two American hikers arrested and convicted on spy-related charges in Iran could be freed "in a couple of days," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said.

He announced the release on NBC's "Today" show in an interview saying it would be a humanitarian gesture.

The development came after their lawyer said an Iranian court set bail of 500,000 dollars each for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, arrested more than two years ago.

The move clears the way for their release a year after a similar bail-for-freedom arrangement for Sarah Shourd, the third member of the group.

The Americans were arrested in July 2009 along the Iran-Iraq border and accused by Iran of espionage. The trio have denied the charges and say they may have mistakenly crossed into Iran when they stepped off a dirt road while hiking near a waterfall in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

Iran may have timed the court decision to coincide with Mr Ahmadinejad's visit later this month to New York for the general assembly of the United Nations. Last year.


From Belfast Telegraph