Families hopeful of U.S. hikers' release

September 23, 2009 12:15:33 PM PDT
The families of three Americans being held in Iran released a statement Wednesday saying they are now hopeful for their release. The statement followed Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks saying he would be lenient with their case.

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The UC Berkeley graduates, 31-year-old Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 27, were detained by border guards on July 31st after crossing into Iran while on a hiking trip to northern Iraq's Kurdistan region.

The families of the three Cal graduates have not had contact with them since they were detained almost two months ago.

Wednesday morning a friend of one of the imprisoned hikers, Sarah Shourd, said all the friends and families of the three detained are waiting to hear Ahmadinejad's comments at the United Nations and are hopeful he will deliver some word on their condition and their future.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to speak Wednesday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. Family members of the imprisoned hikers sent him a letter last week asking for a compassionate release and hoping he would bring the trio with him to the U.S.

Ahmadinejad has not hinted at any release and says in fact, the Americans broke the law entering without visas. But, he has said he will ask the Iranian judiciary to look at the case with "maximum lenience."

"I've had tears on numerous occasions thinking about them and wanting to see Sarah back here safe and sound, or back to her life in Damascus where she was teaching English," Shourd's friend Margaret Roberts told ABC7. "I know that she's just such a lovely person to me, that I have a hard time imagining her detained anywhere for this length of time."

Roberts told ABC7 she believes the hikers had no political motive or plans to report any story as freelance journalists. She feels it was simply a case of mistakenly straying across a poorly-marked border.

The families of the three hikers issued a statement Wednesday in response to the Iranian president's comments that he will ask for leniency saying, "Our immediate concern now is to know that our children are well. We hope the Iranian authorities will allow our children to speak to us without delay and grant them their right to consular access."

The trio has not had any consular access and since the U.S. government has no diplomatic relations with Iran, it has been working with the Swiss government to try to obtain information about the hikers.

Link: Online movement to free U.S. hikers in Iran

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