US hikers jailed in Iran briefly reunited with their mothers

Three Americans jailed in Iran for 10 months hugged and kissed their mothers in an emotional reunion yesterday after the women arrived on a mission to secure the release of their children.

Wearing the long black robes and headscarves required under Iran's Islamic dress code, Nora Shourd, Cindy Hickey and Laura Fattal threw their arms in the air and rushed to embrace their offspring as they entered the room at the Esteghlal Hotel in north Tehran.

In footage aired on Iran's state-run Press TV, the families could be seen rocking back and forth together with tears in their eyes. "We hope we're going home soon, maybe with our mothers," Josh Fattal said, in the trio's first public comments since their arrest.

Iran detained the 27-year-old together with friend Sarah Shourd, 31, and her boyfriend, Shane Bauer, 27 along the Iraqi border in late July. Tehran has accused the three Americans of entering from Iraqi territory and spying but their relatives say the three were simply hiking in Iraq's scenic and largely peaceful northern Kurdish region.

"We don't understand why we've been kept here," said Sarah Shourd yesterday. "We thought we would be here a matter of days and it's been nine-and-a-half months. In my wildest dream I never thought I would still be in prison."

Iran granted the three mothers visas to visit in what it said was an Islamic humanitarian gesture and the Americans appealed to them to release the three on the same grounds. Relatives have had little news on the three since their arrest, and the three women were eager to talk to their children and gauge the state of their health after 10 months in captivity in Iran's notorious Evin prison.

Sarah Shourd's mother, Nora, had said she was especially worried about the effect that near-solitary confinement may be having on her daughter. Swiss diplomats, who represent US interests in Iran, have reported that she was suffering a serious gynaecological condition, while Shane Bauer had a stomach ailment.

Sarah Shourd said yesterday that their treatment by the Iranian authorities had been "decent" and loneliness has been the hardest part of her detention. "Shane and Josh are in a room together but I'm alone and that's the most difficult thing for me," she said, adding that she was allowed to visit the two men twice a day. "This [the meeting] is something obviously we've been praying for and it makes a huge difference."

The group later ate lunch together at a feast of rice, kebabs and other traditional Middle Eastern dishes. Their lawyer Masoud Shafii said the six would stay together at least until evening, but it was not clear whether the three detainees would have to return to the prison for the night.

The mothers are hoping to meet with officials involved in the case, and ideally with top Iranian leaders, including the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all state matters, the lawyer said.

Mr Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey, said yesterday that the parents were "very grateful to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the authorities for granting us a visa" to visit. "We know that this is a great humanitarian act that they have given to us. Our reception was wonderful," she added.

Iran's Intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi, defended the treatment of the Americans during their detention. "We have treated the US nationals according to our religious principles and on humanitarian grounds, even though these individuals committed an act of espionage by illegally crossing the border into Iran," he said to Press TV.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living