U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, D-California, and three other senators are on a mission to help free three UC Berkeley graduates who have been detained by the Iranian government for more than nine months.
Boxer, along with Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. will hold a news conference on Tuesday to urge Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to release the trio, who apparently crossed into Iran while hiking in Northern Iraq.
Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal have been held in Iran since July 31. Their family members and friends say they were detained after they crossed an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region. But Iran has accused them of espionage and plans to prosecute them.
President Ahmadinejad is at the United Nations in New York this week for a conference regarding the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
According to Boxer's office, Bauer, Shourd and Josh Fattal have been allowed only one phone call home since their detainment, have had little contact with the outside world and are grappling with various medical ailments.
In September, Sen. Arlen Spector, D-Pa., Bob Casey, D-Pa. and Bill Nelson, D-Fla. joined the same group of senators in advocating for the hikers' release. The senators introduced a resolution encouraging the government of Iran to allow the hikers to talk to their families by phone. They also stressed their beliefs that Bauer, Shourd and Fattal had mistakenly wandered into Iran and should "do the right thing and let these kids go," as Nelson put it.
Boxer's office said Iran has not yet granted visas requested by the detainees' families and the detainees haven't yet been formally charged or given access to their lawyer.
Bay City News contributed to this report.