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Freed hiker Joshua Fattal celebrates homecoming

by Marc Brodsky, JTA

October 4, 2011 | 1:18 pm

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, U.S. hikers who were held in Iran on charges of espionage, are greeted by their during their arrival in Muscat after their release from Tehran's Evin prison, Sept. 21. Photo by REUTERS/Sultan Al Hasani

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, U.S. hikers who were held in Iran on charges of espionage, are greeted by their during their arrival in Muscat after their release from Tehran's Evin prison, Sept. 21. Photo by REUTERS/Sultan Al Hasani

Freed American hiker Joshua Fattal celebrated his homecoming in suburban Philadelphia with about 200 family members, friends and supporters.

The celebration was held over the weekend at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pa. Despite the step into the public spotlight, Fattal is not granting any interviews yet about his 26-month ordeal in an Iranian prison.

“Josh and Shane and Sarah are off the grid for a while, and their families are trying to get back to life as usual,” said Samantha Topping, a spokeswoman for the family, referring also to Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd. Along with Fattal, they were arrested by Iranian authorities in 2009 after apparently crossing over from Iraq unintentionally.

Bauer and Fattal, who had been convicted of spying for the United States and sentenced to eight years in prison, were freed last month after an anonymous donor paid $1 million in bail. Shourd had been freed a year ago for medical reasons.

The three maintained their innocence and said they considered themselves hostages of the Iranian regime.

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