x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Families plea for US hikers held in Iran

Iran should either prosecute or immediately release three US hikers being held after straying into the country from Iraq, according to the mothers of the young Americans.

Iran should either prosecute or immediately release three US hikers being held after straying into the country from Iraq, according to the mothers of the young Americans. In a statement, the mothers of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal also called for their children to have regular consular access and to be able to call their families. "Shane, Sarah and Josh have been detained in Iran without due process for almost 11 months," they said.

"During that time, Iranian officials have said repeatedly that our children's case is a judicial matter, a position we respect but one which is not supported by any movement towards a resolution of their case." The three Americans have been held since July 31 after they reportedly accidentally walked into Iran while hiking in northern Iraq. Though Iranian officials have made references to the possibility of trying them for espionage, no official charges have been announced.

"To continue to detain our children without regard for their legal and human rights reinforces suspicions that they are being held in a cynical attempt by Iran to exert leverage with the United States," the mothers of the three said. "Iran has no legitimate reason at this stage not to release them or move forward with a fair trial in which our children can openly answer any allegations against them."

They called on Tehran to give the three Americans regular access to US consular officials and to legal representatives, and urged that their children be allowed to call home at least once a week. The statement also asks that Ms Shourd, who became engaged to Mr Bauer while in prison, be moved from solitary confinement. Ms Shourd and Mr Bauer were living together in Syria's capital Damascus when Mr Fattal visited them in July and they left for a hiking trip together in northern Iraq's Kurdistan region.

*AFP