Mothers Get to Meet With Detained U.S. Hikers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Emotional video of Elkins Park mother, Laura Fattal meeting with her son, Joshua who has been detained by the Iranian government for nearly ten months. Fattal and two other American hikers are accused of illegally crossing into Iran. Fattal and the other moms are on a humanitarian mission to hopefully help gain the release of their children.
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    Read more about the emotional meeting and the mission these moms are on to bring their children home. (Published Thursday, May 20, 2010)

    Laura Fattal and the mothers of the other two Americans jailed in Iran hugged and kissed their children Thursday in an emotional first meeting since the trio was arrested in July.

    Iran detained the three Americans -- Sarah Shourd, 31; her boyfriend, Shane Bauer, 27; and their friend Josh Fattal, 27 -- along the Iraqi border 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. All three are graduates of UC Berkeley.

    The day before the meeting, Josh's mom thanked the government of Iran for allowing the visit.

    "I'm very very grateful also and it's a humanitarian effort and it's exactly why we're here, because we're seeing our sons and our daughter," Laura Fattal said.

    Iran's state-run English-language Press TV aired footage of Nora Shourd, Cindy Hickey and Laura Fattal throwing their arms up in the air and rushing to embrace their children as they entered the room. The mothers hugged their children and kissed them on the cheeks as they embraced, some of them rocking back and forth together with tears in their eyes.

    The mothers, who were wearing long black headscarves and holding bouquets of flowers, arrived in Tehran on Wednesday to visit their children and try to secure the their release. The meeting took place at a hotel in north Tehran. The mothers and their children were said to be spending the day together.

     "We hope we're going home soon, maybe with our mothers," Josh Fattal said as the group was interviewed while seated together on a low-slung couch afterward.

    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 months spent in captivity in Iran's notorious Evin prison.

    Nora Shourd said she worried especially 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, Nora Shourd 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 trip to Iran the mothers are also 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.