The mothers of three University of California at Berkeley
graduates who have been detained in Iran for more than nine months are on their way back to the U.S. from Iran without the hikers, a family member said today.
The mothers had an emotional reunion with the hikers at their
hotel in Tehran on Thursday and were able to meet with them at the hotel a second time today, according to a website that supports the hikers.
But Pat Sandys, the cousin of 31-year-old Sarah Shourd and nephew of her mother, Nora Shourd, who lives in Oakland, said the mothers have now left Iran and are now at a stopover in Dubai on their way back to New York City.
Sandys said the mothers will read a statement when they arrive at JFK International Airport in New York on Saturday afternoon. He said they won't be available for further comment until Monday.
Sandys said he didn't want to say anything more about the situation.
Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, 27, and Josh Fattal, 27, have been
imprisoned in Iran since July 31.
Their family members and friends say they were detained after they accidentally crossed an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region. But Iran has accused them of espionage and said that it plans to prosecute them, although no formal charges have been filed.
In addition to Nora Shourd, the mothers are Cindy Hickey of Pine
City, Minn., and Laura Fattal of Elkins Park, Penn.
The mothers applied for visas to visit Iran on Jan. 6 but didn't
receive them until May 12. They arrived in Tehran on Wednesday and only stayed two nights.
Swiss diplomats, who represent U.S. interests in Iran because Iran and the U.S. don't have direct relations, reported after a meeting with the hikers on April 27 that Sarah Shourd has serious health issues and Shane Bauer has a stomach ailment.
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in
Washington, D.C., on Wednesday that, "We're not considering any kind of a prisoner swap" for the hikers.
Crowley said, "We were obviously pleased to see pictures of the
mothers of the three hikers as they visited their children for the first time since they were detained in Iran almost 10 months ago."
He described the hikers as "innocent tourists" and said, "It is
time for Iran to do the right thing by releasing these three young Americans and allowing them to go home and be reunited with their families."