Two American Hikers Imprisoned in Iran Wed in California

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MOHAMMED MAHJOUB / AFP / Getty Images

American hikers, left-to-right, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal sit in Muscat International Airport on September 24, 2011, before being flown back home to the United States.

Two of the three freed American hikers who were held captive in Iran were married this past Saturday in a private ceremony.

Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd tied the knot this past weekend in California in an undisclosed location. Bauer had proposed to Shourd when he tied a ring of thread around her finger while they were jailed in Iran in January 2010. Bauer, Shourd, and a third hiker, Josh Fattal, were arrested by Iranian border guards in July 2009 while they were supposedly taking an innocent hike near the Iraqi region of Kurdistan. During their imprisonment, the hikers became part of an entrenched and complicated diplomatic struggle between Iran, Iraq, Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region and the United States.

(MORE: American Hikers, Free on ‘Bail,’ Are on Their Way Home (But Who Paid?))

Despite calls from Amnesty International and figures like United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for the hikers’ unconditional release, Iran refused to free the hikers, claiming the three Americans had been spying near the Iranian-Iraqi border. Shourd was later released 14 months after her arrest, on $500,000 bail on “humanitarian grounds” after finding a lump in her breast. Meanwhile, Bauer and Fattal remained in prison for another 12 months, until bail was posted for the two hikers in September of last year.

Fattal served as best man during the ceremony.

“Becoming engaged to Sarah while we were in captivity allowed me to dream of a future that was not only secure, but also beautiful. After she was released, I often thought of her as a hero, fighting tirelessly for Josh and I. Our wedding is also a victory,” Bauer said in a statement on their Facebook page.

(MORE: American Hikers’ Fate Again Caught in Iran’s Domestic Power Struggle)

Shourd followed up with her own sentiments: “Now that this day has come, all I can do is close my eyes and fill with gratitude, for our freedom, for the love of so many generous people around the world, and for the very soil under my feet.”

Bauer had been a freelance journalist based in Damascus for the Christian Science Monitor and the National, while Shroud had been teaching English abroad. Fattal stopped by to visit the couple while on his way back to the United States.

Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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