3 Americans in Iran jail see mothers

Three held in prison for 10 months suffering poor health, depression.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
May 20, 2010 16:42
2 minute read.
Two of the American hikers with one of their mothe

American hikers_3 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 
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TEHRAN, Iran — The mothers of three Americans jailed in Iran hugged and kissed their children in an emotional reunion Thursday during a mission to try to win their release.

Iran detained the three Americans — Sarah Shourd, 31; her boyfriend, Shane Bauer, 27; and their friend Josh Fattal, 27 — along the Iraqi border in July and have accused them of spying. Their relatives reject the accusation and say the three were hiking in Iraq's scenic and largely peaceful northern Kurdish region.

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Nora Shourd, Cindy Hickey and Laura Fattal threw their arms in the air and rushed to embrace their children as they entered the room at the Esteghlal Hotel in north Tehran, in footage aired on Iran's state-run Press TV.

The mothers, who were wearing long black robes and holding bouquets of flowers during the meeting, arrived in Tehran on Wednesday to visit their children and try to secure the their release.

With all six of them seated together on a low-slung couch afterward, Shourd told reporters "we've only received one phone call and that was five minutes long and that was amazing — we waited and prayed for that every day."

Relatives have had little news on the three Americans since their arrest, and their mothers are eager to talk with them and gauge where their health stands after some 10 months in captivity in Iran's Evin prison.

Nora Shourd has said she is especially worried about the effect that near-solitary confinement may be having on her always social daughter. With no one to talk to, Sarah had become seriously depressed, her mother says she was told by the Swiss diplomats who visited the trio last month. The diplomats also reported that Sarah was suffering a serious gynecological condition, while Bauer had a stomach ailment.



A lawyer representing the Americans, Masoud Shafii, has said that during their visit, the mothers are seeking meetings with officials involved in the case, and ideally with top Iranian leaders, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all state matters.

Although the Americans have not been publicly charged, Shafii has left open the possibility of a resolution outside of usual legal channels, saying "anything is possible."

"It doesn't have the feel of a normal court case," Shafii said Wednesday.

The case could face complications from Iran's diplomatic showdown with the U.S. and its allies. Just before the mothers' arrival in Tehran, the United States said it had won support from other major powers for a new set of sanctions against Iran over its suspect nuclear program.

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