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Hikers' moms get second meeting with their children

By the CNN Wire Staff
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US hikers describe life in Iranian jail
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Moms have "friendly talk" with families of Iranians once held by U.S. in Iraq, media said
  • Hikers allowed to speak publicly for first time at a Tehran hotel
  • Hiker calls treatment by Iranian officials 'decent'
  • Attorney: Mothers request meeting with president, supreme leader

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- The mothers of the three American hikers detained in Iran met with their children again on Friday, but their lawyer said they were set to leave the Islamic republic without their children.

"We understand that they had a second meeting with their children earlier today, and we are grateful for that. And beyond that, we understand they're still there, and that we certainly continue to call upon the government of Iran to release them on humanitarian grounds," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

Sarah Shourd, 31, Shane Bauer, 27. 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.

The hikers' attorney Masoud Shafii said the mothers were at Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport without their children and without meeting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or any other Iranian political leader. They had requested meetings with those leaders.

"Naturally they were disappointed," Shafii said. "If you were leaving without your children, wouldn't you be?"

He said the mothers thanked him and the Swiss ambassador, who represents U.S. interests in Iran, for their efforts. He said they asked him to continue pursuing the case.

Shafii said Thursday it wasn't clear when the three would be released.

"The investigation is not over," he said. "Once the investigation is over, then the case goes to trial, and there will be [a] defense so it looks like it could take some time, but from a diplomatic standpoint, anything can happen."

In a separate incident on Friday, two Iranians detained for years in Iraq by U.S. troops have been freed and are headed home, officials at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad told CNN.

Video: Detained hikers meet with mothers
Video: Moms of jailed hikers on trip to Iran
RELATED TOPICS
  • Joshua Fattal
  • Sarah Shourd
  • Shane Bauer
  • Iran

U.S. troops arrested Ahmed Barazandeh in the Iraqi city of Samarra. He had been traveling on a religious pilgrimage and was detained after he separated from his group. Troops arrested Ali Abdolmalek because he was not carrying a passport when he entered Iraq.

Iranian officials said the release of the two in Iraq has no connection to the status of the three hikers.

Earlier, the mothers had a "friendly talk" with families of other Iranians who had been detained by U.S. authorities in Iraq, Iranian media said.

They met at a hotel in northern Tehran with the families of five Iranian diplomats who were taken into custody by the U.S. military when it raided an Iranian consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil in January 2007.

Iran's Press TV reported that relatives of the five "kidnapped" Iranians did not have the chance to meet with their relatives "under similar circumstances."

Those Iranians were released in July 2009.

The United States had accused them of being agents of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, a group believed to be providing funds, weapons, roadside bomb technology and insurgent training.

The arrests came as Washington was pouring additional troops into the war in Iraq in an effort to stem sectarian warfare that had ravaged the country. The Bush administration accused the men of supporting Shiite Muslim militias, but Iran said they were diplomats.

Shafii said the hikers met alone with their mothers on Thursday for about eight hours.

At a government-controlled news conference held at a Tehran hotel, they spoke publicly for the first time.

"We see each other twice a day," Bauer said. "We exercise a lot, read a lot, study -- at least these last few months we've been able to do that, have had more material to do that. Try to be active as much as possible."

Shourd, Bauer's girlfriend, called their treatment by Iranian authorities "decent."

"It's really difficult being alone. Shane and Josh are in the room together, but I'm alone. And that's the most difficult thing for me," she said. "But I see them twice a day."

She said they receive good food and access to television and reading materials. Shafii said prison officials are looking for a suitable cellmate for Shourd.

"The hour a day I have with Shane and Josh, I try to make the most of it," Shourd said. "I know we sing together and tell each other stories about our lives and everything about each other. We try to just give each other a lot of support in the little time we have together. The rest of the time I exercise and read. That's all there is to do."

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

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

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

"What's most important is Sarah Shourd's ailment," Shafii said. Shourd suffers from an ongoing condition and needs to see a doctor every few months, he said.

"This hasn't happened, and I've told investigators about this," he said.

The three decided against a hunger strike after meeting with Swiss diplomats, he said.

CNN's Reza Sayah contributed to this report

 
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