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American hikers jailed in Iran could be freed "in 2 days"

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told NBC News that Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal could be released within days.
Iran hikers freed 09 13 11Enlarge
A picture released by Iran's state-run Press TV shows US hikers Shane Bauer (L) and Josh Fattal (C), detained in Iran on spying charges, sitting next to an unidentified translator during the first session of their trial at the Tehran Revolutionary Court in the Iranian capital on February 6, 2011, more than 18 months after their arrest on the unmarked border with Iraq during a hiking trip. (-/AFP/Getty Images)

Two Americans currently serving an 8-year prison sentence in Iran will be freed within days, according to comments made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an interview set to air on NBC News Tuesday.

The two men, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, were arrested with a third American woman while hiking near Iran’s border with Iraq in June 2009.

NBC News reports:

Ahmadinejad made the remark about Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal in a one-on-one interview with Ann Curry that is due to be broadcast on NBC's TODAY on Tuesday morning. The Associated Press later reported that Iran had set bail of $500,000 for the two men, citing a lawyer.

The third hiker, Sarah Shourd, was released in September 2010 on a bail of $500,000 for health reasons. She returned to the United States and did not go back to Iran for the trial, forfeiting her bail money.

This is not the first time Bauer and Fattal have been close to a possible release.

(More from GlobalPost: One year later, little hope for US hikers held in Iran)

Last month, many in Iran believed the Americans would be released on compassionate grounds at the end of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.

CBS News reports that any release will have to be accepted both by Amadinejad and the country’s conservative religious authority.

“Virtually everything Ahmadinejad - or any Iranian president - does must pass through the Islamic Republic's cadre of religious leaders, who often take a harder line toward the U.S.,” reported CBS following the news on Tuesday of an imminent release.

According to CBS News:

It is not at all inconceivable, even at this stage, that Iran's judiciary branch - which is headed by a powerful cleric - might announce at a news conference in the coming days that Fattal and Bauer are not being released, for whatever reason.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-casbah/american-hikers-jailed-iran-could-be-freed-2-days