Moms of 3 Imprisoned U.S. Hikers Iran-Bound

Filed under: In The News, Amazing Parents

Credit: Stan Honda, AFP / Getty Images

NEW YORK (AP) - One of the mothers of three American hikers imprisoned in Iran for 10 months said Tuesday that she and the other mothers are excited and confident as they depart for Tehran to visit their children and appeal for their release.

The women have been granted visas and are leaving for the United Arab Emirates from New York on Tuesday morning. Their children - Sarah Shourd, 31; her boyfriend, Shane Bauer, 27; and their friend Josh Fattal, 27 - have been held in Iran since July when they were arrested along the Iraqi border. Nora Shourd, Cindy Hickey and Laura Fattal said they will appeal to Iranian leaders to release their children from prison.

"We're going over as mothers to ask for humanitarian relief and we're very confident," Hickey said from a hotel in midtown Manhattan before leaving for the airport. "We want to bring our kids home."

"I'm very excited," she added. "I keep envisioning being able to give Shane a big hug. We're doing everything we can to bring him home."

The families say that their children were hiking in the scenic Kurdistan region of northern Iraq and, if they crossed the border, it was by accident. Iran has accused the trio of spying, but has not brought them to trial or publicly charged them with a crime.

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

Nora Shourd says she worries 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.

The mothers said their children have not been allowed access to their Iranian lawyer and have spoken to relatives only once by telephone, on March 9 for just a few minutes.

Hickey lives in Pine City, Minn., Shourd is from Oakland, Calif., and Fattal is from suburban Philadelphia.

Sitting with the other two mothers at a hotel room in New York on Monday, Fattal recounted what she calls "such a good daydream." She pictures standing all of them in a group hug with their kids, and then being able to bring them home.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.