Two American Hikers Held in Iran Land at JFK

Fattal, Bauer, and Shourd catching the flight in Oman. Photo: Mohammed Mahjoub/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, the two American hikers imprisoned in Iran on espionage charges, have finally returned to the United States, after months of uncertainty and intense negotiations through Omani and Swiss intermediaries. Their plane touched down at New York's JFK airport this morning around eleven, with Bauer and Fattal aboard, along with a third hiker, Sarah Shourd, who'd been released about a year ago. (Bauer proposed to Shourd while they were both in Iranian custody. She said yes.) While obviously great news for the three Americans, there remains the question about what this development means for U.S.-Iran relations. Are we at the start of a thawing period? Or were the two men simply pawns in a power struggle between Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei? Maybe once we know what was promised the Iranians — they certainly wouldn't have given up such a powerful bargaining chip for a measly $1 million in bail money — we'll have a better idea where things are headed.

Hikers jailed in Iran return to New York [NYP]