By Emmett Berg
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Two of the three American hikers jailed in Iran after allegedly straying over the Iraq-Iran border in 2009 were to be married on Saturday in a private ceremony in California, according to a statement posted on their Facebook page.
The wedding of Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd completes an engagement that began when Bauer tied a ring of thread around her finger while they were in prison in 2010.
"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," Shourd said in the statement posted on the Free the Hikers Facebook page.
The third hiker, Josh Fattal, was to be the best man, the statement said.
The statement did not say exactly where in California the wedding was to take place, only that it was a setting "chosen for its pastoral beauty."
"Becoming engaged to Sarah while we were in captivity allowed me to dream of a future that was not only secure, but also beautiful," Bauer said in the statement.
Bauer, Shourd and Fattal were arrested on July 2009 by Iranian border guards, who allege that the three crossed over into Iran from the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
Shourd was released 14 months later on humanitarian grounds but Bauer and Fattal were convicted of illegal entry and espionage.
The men spent the first three months of their detention in solitary confinement before they were put in an 8 foot by 13 foot (2.5 meter by 4 meter) cell together. They spent their time reading and testing each other on various topics and were allowed a short time in an outside room to exercise daily.
During 781 days in jail, they had 15 minutes of phone calls with their families and one short visit from their mothers, Fattal said. They staged repeated hunger strikes over demands they be given letters sent by their families, he said.
Fattal and Bauer were freed last September after Oman paid bail of $1 million. Shourd was released on $500,000 bail a year earlier.
(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Tim Gaynor)