WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the United States is “deeply disappointed” that Iran has sentenced two American hikers to eight years in prison after their conviction on charges of espionage and illegal entry.

Clinton said Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal should be released immediately. She said “it is time for them to return home and be reunited with their families” more than two years after their arrest.

Clinton said President Obama and Americans are expressing “our unflagging support” for the hikers and their families during “this difficult time.”

The men were arrested in July 2009 near the Iraq-Iran border along with a third American who has since been released on bail and returned to the United States.