Mothers of US hikers held in Iran on hunger strike

The mothers are protesting against their sons` continued detention.

Washington: The mothers of two US hikers held in Iran on espionage charges said on Thursday that they have gone on hunger strike to protest against their sons` continued detention.

"The mothers of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two Americans imprisoned in Iran in almost complete isolation for more than 21 months, began a hunger strike in solidarity with their sons today, after Iran failed to bring them to court for a scheduled trial hearing," the women said in a joint statement.

"The fast by Cindy Hickey, 50, and Laura Fattal, 58, coincides with the anniversary of their brief visit to Tehran one year ago, the only time they have seen their sons since their arrest on July 31, 2009," their statement said.

The women were allowed in May 2010 to briefly meet with the two men, but have not had access to them since.

The trial of Bauer and Fattal, after numerous delay, was to have begun last week, but was postponed by the Tehran government without explanation.

Another hiker, Sarah Shourd, who is engaged to Bauer, was freed on bail in September after being imprisoned for 14 months.

She is being tried in absentia after she returned to the United States when she was freed on humanitarian and medical grounds, after paying bail of around USD 500,000.

The hikers have pleaded not guilty to spying charges, saying they innocently strayed into Iran from across the unmarked border with northern Iraq when they were arrested.

The trio, all graduates of the University of California at Berkeley, were hiking near a tourist resort in Iraqi Kurdistan when they were detained by Iranian border forces on July 31, 2009.

Bureau Report