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Associated Press, Published September 15 2010

Mothers hope 2 hikers are released soon from Iran

NEW YORK — The mothers of two American hikers imprisoned in Iran on spying charges said Wednesday that they hope Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad brings their sons with him when he comes to New York for the United Nations General Assembly next week.

"He has innocent hikers, and I think it would be a wonderful humanitarian move," said Laura Fattal, the mother of Josh Fattal.

Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd were detained along Iran's border with Iraq in July 2009 and later accused of spying. Shourd, who grew up in Los Angeles, was released Tuesday after Omani officials mediated a deal for a $500,000 bail. Fattal and Bauer remain in a Tehran prison.

Laura Fattal and Cindy Hickey, the mother of Bauer, said they were encouraged by Shourd's release and hope their sons will be freed soon as well.

"These are young people with their lives ahead of them," Fattal said. "They need to be free."

Hickey, of Pine City, Minn. and Fattal, of Elkins Park, Pa., spoke to The Associated Press in New York during a day of media interviews following Shourd's release.

They said they have not spoken to Shourd, but they understand she was able to say goodbye to Bauer and Fattal.

"That was very reassuring, because I know they would worry very much about her if they didn't know where she went," Fattal said.

Bauer proposed to Shourd, his longtime girlfriend, during their detention in January. The couple told Hickey and Shourd's mother, Nora, of the engagement during the lone visit the mothers were allowed with the hikers in May.

"It gave me hope that they're planning a future," Hickey said. "It was a huge relief to me to know that they're planning a future."

The women said the espionage charge against their sons is ridiculous.

"Shane, my son, is a photojournalist and he's actually been critical of U.S. policy when it comes to the Middle East," Hickey said. "So the thought of him working in any capacity for the U.S. government is just totally ridiculous."


Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.