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Hikers' mothers return to U.S. without children

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Moms of missing hikers home empty-handed
  • Nora Shourd says the women spent about 10 hours over two days with their children
  • Mothers requested meetings with Iranian president and ayatollah but nothing materialized
  • Hikers Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27, were detained in July

New York (CNN) -- The mothers of three American hikers detained in Iran made an emotional return to the United States on Saturday after visiting their children in Tehran for the first time in 10 months.

"The pain of having to leave Tehran without our children is almost more than we can bear," Cindy Hickey, mother of Shane Bauer, said after the women arrived at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. "Our greatest hope was to bring our children home with us where they belong.

"We will hope and pray that the Iranian authorities will now find it in their hearts to resolve our children's case and release them without delay."

Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27, were detained in July. Their families say the three accidentally strayed across an unmarked border while on a hiking trip in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Video: US hikers describe life in Iranian jail

Nora Shourd, mother of Sarah, said the women were able to spend about 10 hours over two days with their children -- their first real contact with them since their detainment. The hikers made a brief phone call home March 9 and have had access to a few letters and messages sent by relatives, friends and supporters.

"We're satisfied that our children are being well-treated and extremely relieved to see for ourselves that they're in reasonable health after their long period of confinement," Nora Shourd said. "Nonetheless, the emotional strain on them and the loneliness is very difficult and they told us they just cannot understand why they're still in jail."

The three Americans have not been formally charged, although Tehran has said they will face trial on espionage charges.

Alex Fattal, brother of Josh, told CNN Saturday that the three hikers are "innocent, they're innocuous and they need to come home."

Before their trip, the mothers had requested meetings with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but those meetings did not take place, according to the hikers' attorney.

The women declined to take questions from reporters gathered at the airport. Laura Fattal, mother of Josh, said, "We are literally exhausted and just too overwhelmed by the emotions of this trip."

CNN's Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.