AFP: Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Monday that the mothers of three US hikers held in the Islamic republic were able to apply for visas to meet their children, state television reported.
TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Monday that the mothers of three US hikers held in the Islamic republic were able to apply for visas to meet their children, state television reported.
“The order was given to the Iranian diplomatic mission in New York (at the United Nations) to issue visas. The mothers of three Americans can go there to collect their visas and come to Iran,” Mottaki said.
The minister added that the decision had been taken “for humanitarian reasons.”
The three — Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27 — were detained on July 31 last year after straying across Iran’s border during a hiking trip in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.
Iran initially accused them of spying but Mottaki said in December that they faced charges of entering the country illegally. The trio are being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.
Washington said last month it was “deeply alarmed” over the fate of the hikers after relatives said two of them had fallen into poor health and all were considering a hunger strike.
The families of the three hikers expressed hope earlier on Monday that they would soon be able to travel to Iran in order to see their children.
“We have not received official confirmation that this is the case but we would obviously be delighted if it is true and are ready to travel as soon as our visas are issued,” they said in a joint statement.
“We are extremely concerned for the physical and emotional welfare of Shane, Sarah and Josh and cannot wait to see them after nine long months.”
Last month, Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi accused the hikers of cooperating with “intelligence services,” without elaborating. He said Iran had “compelling evidence” of the ties.
Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations since the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution.