Hikers' Mothers Arrive in Teheran

By Bay City News
Wednesday May 19, 2010 - 04:59:00 PM

The mothers of three University of California at Berkeley graduates who have been detained in Iran for more than nine months arrived today in Tehran, the country's capital city, according to their spokeswoman.  

Spokeswoman Laura Benson said the mothers hope to meet with their children and top Iranian leaders but nothing is guaranteed at this point.  

The mothers applied for visas on Jan. 6 but didn't receive them until May 12.  

Sarah Shourd, 31, Shane Bauer, 27, and Josh Fattal, 27, have been imprisoned in Iran since July 31.  

Their family members and friends say they were detained after they crossed an unmarked border into Iran's while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region. But Iran has accused them of espionage and said that it plans to prosecute them, although no formal charges have been filed.  

The hikers' mothers are Nora Shourd of Oakland, Cindy Hickey of Pine City, Minn., and Laura Fattal from Elkins Park, Penn.  

Benson said the mothers flew from New York City to Dubai and then from Dubai to Tehran. She said she hopes to be able to release more information as their trip unfolds.  

In a joint statement they issued on Monday, the mothers said envoys from the Swiss Embassy, which represents U.S. interests in Iran because Iran and the U.S. don't have direct relations, last saw the three hikers on April 27. That was only the third time the hikers have received consular access in more than nine months, according to the mothers.  

The mothers said Swiss diplomats told them that Sarah Shourd has serious health issues and Shane Bauer has a stomach ailment.  

All three hikers were "despondent" at the lack of movement in their case and have spoken about going on a hunger strike, according to the mothers.  

The hikers have not been allowed access to their Iranian lawyer, Masoud Shafii, and have spoken to relatives only once by phone, which was in a short conversation on March 9, the mothers said.  

In their statement, the mothers said, "We are grateful to Iran for issuing our visas. This is an encouraging development. We are overjoyed that we will soon be able to hug our children but our joy is naturally clouded by the fear of returning home without Shane, Sarah and Josh."  

They said, "That is more than any mother, anywhere in the world, should have to bear and we would be absolutely devastated."  

The mothers added, "We hope Iran's leaders will agree to meet with us so that we can respectfully ask them to release our children as an act of human kindness to our families. We trust they will act with compassion, end our heartache, and let us all be together again as families."  

They concluded, "This nightmare has lasted too long."