Josh Fattal, one of the American "hikers" released last week after spending over two years in an Iranian prison – is Jewish and has an Israeli father, local Philidelphia newspaper The Jewish Exponent reported Monday.
The Jewish weekly revealed the details of the Pennsylvania local only after Fattal and fellow traveler Shane Bauer were released from Iranian custody, deferring due to fears for his safety expressed by the Fattal family.
A Jewish Federation official told the paper that Fattal’s mother once compared her son’s situation to that of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, but noted that Schalit was "in such worse shape in terms of a chance of getting out."
Fattal and Bauer, who were arrested while hiking along the Iraq-Iran border in 2009 and who denied being spies, flew to Oman on Friday, after officials there helped secure their release by posting bail of $1 million.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad agreed to their release last week, saying it was a humanitarian gesture before his annual trip to the UN General Assembly in New York.
Both were arrested in July 2009 near Iran’s border with Iraq along with another American, Sarah Shourd. The trio are all in their late 20s and early 30s.
Shourd was released on $500,000 bail a year ago and allowed to fly home, but the two men were sentenced to eight years in prison last month after a trial held behind closed doors.