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Iran will allow hikers' families to visit

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Glimmer of hope for hikers' moms
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iranian state media reports families of three hikers will receive visas
  • Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, Joshua Fattal held in Iran since July
  • Families say they accidentally strayed across an unmarked border while hiking in Iraqi
  • Fattal's mother: "We're excited. We're happy. We're delighted."
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(CNN) -- Families of three American hikers detained in Iran will be allowed to visit them, Iranian state media reported Monday.

State-run Press TV did not indicate how it got the information, and the U.S. State Department said the families of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal have not yet received visas that will permit their travel to the country.

The semi-official Fars News Agency quoted Iran's foreign minister as saying the decision to issue the visas was decided on a humanitarian basis before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the United Nations last week for a conference on nuclear nonproliferation.

"The three mothers can go to the Iran's Representative's Office (at the United Nations) and obtain their visas and then come to Iran," Fars quoted Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as saying.

Laura Fattal, mother of Joshua, told CNN Monday that the families had yet to receive official word about the visit, but said "we're willing to leave at a moment's notice."

"We're excited. We're happy. We're delighted," she said.

The families applied for visas six months ago.

Shourd, 31, Bauer, 27, and Fattal, 27, were detained in July and sent to Evin prison in Tehran after their families say they accidentally strayed across an unmarked border into Iran while on a hiking trip in Iraqi Kurdistan.

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

The three have had little contact with the outside world since their arrests. They made a brief phone call home March 9 and have access to a few letters and messages sent by relatives, friends and supporters.

The Swiss ambassador to Iran met with the detainees last month and said Bauer and Shourd are in poor health and are considering a hunger strike.

The United States, which has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since 1979, has relied on Switzerland to appeal directly for the hikers' release.

CNN's Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.

 
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