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Parents can call detained American hikers in Iran

By the CNN Wire Staff
The mothers of Shane Bauer, shown left, and Josh Fattal hold pictures of the two hikers being held in Iran.
The mothers of Shane Bauer, shown left, and Josh Fattal hold pictures of the two hikers being held in Iran.
  • NEW: "We cannot wait to hear their voices," the families of the hikers say
  • The decision was made on "humanitarian consideration"
  • Families can call the U.N. mission and the call will be transferred
  • The Iranian judiciary decides the freed hiker must appear in court, IRNA reports

(CNN) -- The parents of two American hikers held in Iran will now be able to speak to their sons via telephone, according to Iran's mission to the United Nations.

"We cannot wait to hear their voices, but more than anything we want to see them come home and be able to hug them again at long last," said a statement from the families of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. "We appeal to Iran's leaders to find it in their hearts to end the nightmare that Shane, Josh and our families are living through."

Bauer and Fattal have been held in Evin Prison in the Iranian capital of Tehran for more than a year. They and a third hiker, Sarah Shourd, were arrested in 2009 after they allegedly strayed across an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region. Iran has accused them of espionage. Shourd was released on humanitarian grounds in September.

The decision on the phone calls was made based on "humanitarian consideration" after meetings with U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-New York, and Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee, according to Mahdi Nourian, a spokesman for Iran's U.N. mission.

"There is now an agreement that the parents of these two young men can be in contact with them over the phone," said Hinchey, who has been working on behalf of the detained hikers for more than a year. "They can call on the phone and speak on a regular basis."

"This direct contact is new and a positive step forward," Hinchey said. "I think it will be comforting to these two young men and be [a] happy circumstance to their parents."

The congressman said he will continue to have conversations with the ambassador and will persist in his efforts to make additional progress in the case.

Hinchey said he has told Fattal's family of the development, and was attempting to make contact with Bauer's family.

Under the agreement, the parents would call the U.N. mission, and the call would be transferred to their children in Iran.

Shourd has not been officially summoned to return to Iran for trial, and a court date for the three Americans -- initially set for Saturday -- has been postponed, according to the state-run Iranian Republic News Agency.

"The court schedule for the two Americans was set, but the judiciary itself faced a problem, which was whether or not to summon Sarah Shourd to appear in court," said Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, spokesman for the judiciary and attorney general for Tehran, at a news conference, according to IRNA. "Apparently she had not been summoned to appear in court. Today I heard that the courts had decided that the third national who was freed and released earlier must also appear in court."

The families of Bauer and Fattal said they have not been told officially that the trial would be postponed.

CNN's Mitra Mobasherat contributed to this report.