Middle East

Mothers' emotional reunion with US hikers in Iran

The mothers of three American hikers being held in Iran on espionage charges have had an emotional meeting with their children in Tehran.

The women threw their arms in the air, rushed to the trio, hugged and kissed them.

It was their first meeting since Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27, were seized last July after entering Iran from Iraq.

The mothers called for their release as a "humanitarian gesture".

"Please, please let them go," said Cindy Hickey, Shane Bauer's mother. "It would be a good gesture for the world to see Iran doing."

Speaking to reporters after their two-hour reunion, the three hikers said they had been well treated in custody.

But Sarah Shourd said it was "difficult" being alone, adding her boyfriend Shane and friend Josh are being held together.

"We have good food and good medical attention and we have reading material," she added.

No public charge

Footage of the meeting, which took place at a Tehran hotel, was shown on Iran's state-run English language Press TV.

It is the first time any pictures have been shown of the three since they were taken into custody.

Tehran accuses the Americans of entering Iran illegally and having links to US intelligence.

Their relatives say they were hiking in northern Iraq's Kurdistan region and unintentionally crossed an unmarked border.

The three have spent 10 months in Iran's Evin prison. They have not been publicly charged.

Relatives had received little news about them since the arrests. Mothers Nora Shourd, Laura Fattal and Cindy Hickey arrived on Wednesday at Tehran airport on one-week visas.

The visit was brokered by the Swiss embassy, which represents US interests in Iran.

The mothers are seeking talks with Iranian officials to press for their children's release. Iran has given no official indication that it is considering such a move.

In December, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said they would stand trial, but he did not specify on what charges.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on Tehran to free the hikers, and said that any charges would be unfounded.

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