SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) — U.S. officials are expressing optimism that the two American hikers being held in Iran will be released.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday they continue to hope that the Iranian regime will release the two men as a humanitarian gesture.

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KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

Clinton said the U.S. has received word through a number of sources that the hikers will be released and returned to their families.

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Officials said Arab countries Oman and Iraq were involved in negotiations for the release of the two Americans, as efforts intensified over a $1 million bail-for-freedom plan.

The hikers, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, were detained along the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009, charged with spying and sentenced to jail. They have denied the spying charges.

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