New America Media, Mary Ambrose
|Reporter Shane Bauer|
The wait for the release of three young Americans arrested on July 31 for allegedly crossing the border illegally into Iran continues, but their families hope they have made some progress towards bringing them home.
On Friday, Nora Shroud, Laura Fattal and Cindy Hickey, the mothers of Sarah Shroud, Josh Fattal, and Shane Bauer, met in New York City to deliver a petition to the Iranian trade mission. The 2,500 signatures and appeals were collected at the familiesâ€™ site, Free The Hikers, and at vigils held across the country. They all want the same thing: release the hikers from jail and allow them to leave Iran.
The trade mission accepted the petition, which the women viewed as a good sign, as were encouraging noises from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but they want action.
About a month ago, a Swiss diplomat was granted the first consular access visit to the hikers. Switzerland represents U.S. diplomatic interests in Tehran, since the U.S. doesnâ€™t have diplomatic relations with Iran. The diplomat phoned the parents and reported that their children were in good shape. The diplomat gave them chocolate and assured each of them that their companions were well. Itâ€™s assumed they are not being held together.
Itâ€™s been three weeks since Ahmadinejad said that the hikers entered the country illegally, which he noted was â€œconsidered a crime everywhere,â€ and despite insisting he has no control over the judiciary or the case, he told the Associated Press that he could ask that â€œthe judiciary expedite the process and give it its full attention … and basically look at the case with maximum leniency.â€ The families want him to deliver on that promise.
Laura Fattal said they see this as a humanitarian issue and on CNN said she thinks that as a father, Ahmadinejad can â€œeasily imagine how difficult it is for the families of the hikers.â€