US religious envoys return from Iran without jailed U.S. hikers
Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 20 /Trend/
A delegation of U.S. Christian and Muslim leaders has returned from Iran without jailed Americans but said the release of two Americans is imminent, The Washington Post reported with reference to The Associated Press.
The delegation arrived Monday at Dulles Airport following a meeting on Saturday with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Delegation members believe the two will be released in a matter of days. They say the Iranians are hopeful that the U.S. will reciprocate and review the cases of Iranians jailed in the U.S.
Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal and Sarah Shourd were detained in 2009 after crossing an unmarked stretch of the Iran-Iraq border. They were charged by Iran's Revolutionary Court with illegally crossing the border and espionage and sentenced to eight-year prison terms.
Shourd was released in September, 2010 on health grounds after posting 500,000 dollars in bail, and returned to the United States.
Last week, Ahmadinejad told NBC News that two American nationals would be freed by the end of the week. Then, Iran's Revolutionary Court agreed to release two U.S. citizens under $500,000 bail for each.
However, Iran's Judiciary had refuted media reports on their release.
On Sept. 15, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani held talks with the Iranian top officials on the release of these two. After the talks, the Iranian side agreed to hand over them to the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests in Iran.
Later, CNN reported that the Sultanate of Oman was involved again in brokering the release of Fattal and Bauer.
Masoud Shafee, the lawyer for two Americans, has failed to obtain on Sunday the second, key signature on bail arrangements for a possible release of his clients.
Shafee noted he couldn't complete the paperwork on the $1 million bail deal for Bauer and Fattal because the second judge who was supposed to sign the documents is on vacation until Tuesday.
Edited by T.Konyayeva