May 21, 2010 in Nation/World

Mothers reunited with three hikers jailed in Iran

Nasser Karimi And Brian Murphy Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Josh Fattal hugs his mother, Laura Fattal, during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, on Thursday.
(Full-size photo)

TEHRAN, Iran – Three Americans jailed in Iran for 10 months embraced their mothers and spoke of their life in Tehran’s most dreaded prison Thursday in an emotional reunion that Iranian authorities broadcast on a main international channel.

The women hope their weeklong visit will secure the release of Sarah Shourd, 31; her boyfriend, Shane Bauer, 27; and their friend Josh Fattal, 27.

The mothers threw their arms in the air and rushed to embrace their children as they entered a room at a high-rise hotel that overlooks the Evin Prison where the three have been held.

Iran’s main task appeared aimed at leveraging high propaganda value for allowing the visit.

The meeting received extensive coverage on Iran’s state-run Press TV, the government’s main English-language broadcast arm. Reporters for the foreign media also were allowed their first glimpse of the three Americans since their arrest on the border with Iraq last July.

The trio has been accused of spying and entering Iran illegally after being detained on the porous border with Iraq last July. Relatives say the three were simply hiking in Iraq’s scenic and largely peaceful mountainous northern Kurdish region.

The three prisoners did not specifically address any of the accusations. It’s unclear whether this was their decision or a requirement by Iranian officials.

“We hope we’re going home soon, maybe with our mothers,” Josh Fattal said as the group was interviewed.

The three prisoners appeared healthy, wearing jeans and polo-style shirts. Sarah Shourd wore a maroon-colored head scarf.

They described their routines behind bars and the small things that take on major significance: being allowed books, letters from home, the ability for some exercise and the one hour each day they are all together.

Sarah Shourd said their treatment by the Iranian authorities has been “decent” and loneliness has been the hardest part of her detention because she was isolated as a woman.

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