Hikers Held in Iran Meet Their Mothers

Iranian government allows 'humanitarian' visit from mothers of three imprisoned American hikers

The three American hikers held in Iran finally got a break, albeit a small one: The Iranian government allowed Josh Fattal, Sarah Shourd, and Shane Bauer to leave the prison cells where they've been held for over 10 months to visit with their mothers, who'd traveled to the country in hopes of securing their release.

The reunion was heavily staged, and reporters were instructed not to ask political questions. The hikers revealed little about their imprisonment, other than that they'd been well-fed and allowed to watch TV and read books. Shourd seemed to crack, however, when recounting the fact that she was only allowed to see her companions during two 30-minute visits each day. Otherwise, she is kept in isolation, while the men share a cell.

“We don’t understand why we’ve been kept here,” Ms. Shourd said as she sat beside her mother, whose face was drawn and weary. “We thought we’d be kept here for a matter of days, and it’s been nine and a half months. In my wildest dreams I never thought I would still be in prison.”

The mothers plan to attempt to get an extended visa in Iran to continue campaigning for the release of their children on "humanitarian grounds." Iran expressed willingness to barter the hikers for Iranian prisoners held in the U.S., but officials here have rejected such deals. Their position as bargaining chips in high-stakes nuclear talks is especially troubling.

The hikers were detained after accidentally crossing the Iraqi border with Iran while hiking toward waterfalls near Ahmed Awa. Iran maintains the three are U.S. spies.

—Ted Alvarez

via NY Times/AP