TEHRAN, Iran — Two Americans jailed in Iran as spies left Tehran on Wednesday, closing a high-profile drama with archfoe Washington that brought more than two years of hope then heartbreak for the families as the Islamic Republic’s hard-line rulers rejected international calls for their release.
Iran’s state news agency IRNA said Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal left Iran just as darkness fell in the capital. An Omani official told The Associated Press the men were flying to the capital, Muscat. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. He did not say how long the two men will stay in the Gulf state before heading home to America.
The case of Bauer and Fattal, who were convicted by an Iranian court of spying for the United States, has deepened strains in the already fraught relationship between Washington and Tehran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was first to mention last week that the Americans’ could be released, is in the United States and is scheduled to speak at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.
The release came just minutes before President Barack Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly. There was no direct evidence that Iran timed the American’s freedom to overshadow Obama’s speech, but Iran has conducted international political stagecraft in the past.
Most famously, Iran waited until just moments after Ronald Reagan’s presidential inauguration in January 1981 to fr…