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3 US Mothers to Visit Children Held in Iran

Adam Phillips | Washington 18 May 2010

The Iranian government has granted temporary visas to the mothers of three young Americans who have been held since July, after crossing into Iran from Iraq while on a hike.

There were signs of stress and relief on the faces of Cindy Hickey and Nora Shourd as they spoke about their planned trip to Iran on Tuesday.

Hickey: "We're very excited about this. This is the best news I personally have gotten for 10 months -- that we get to wrap our arms around our children and let them know we're going to get this done."

Shourd: "We just can't wait. We're going to have to wait a little bit longer, but it's actually going to happen. It's becoming a reality, finally. I can't imagine how excited they are going to be to see us and, of course, vice versa. We need to see our kids."

Hickey: "Our main goal is to convince the Iranian authorities to release our children. We want to bring them home. Coming home without them would be devastating and we're going very determined to bring them home."

The women said Iranian authorities have permitted only a single, one minute telephone conversation with their children since January.

Shourd describes her daughter Sarah as a spunky, caring young woman, who had been working in Syria helping Iraqi refugees. She was on vacation hiking in northern Iraq with Hickey's son, Shane, a photographer, and a mutual friend, Josh Fattal, when the three say they lost their way and crossed the border into Iran.

Hickey, Shourd and Laura Fattal arrived in New York on Sunday after receiving Iranian visas last week. Their travel plans are being arranged by the Swiss government because the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran.

Iran's Foreign Ministry said the visas were issued on humanitarian grounds.

Shourd insists that all three hikers are innocent of spying, and says that the campaign for their release has nothing to do with politics.

"It's about how a mother would feel anywhere in the world - how an Iranian mother would feel [and] how an Iranian official who has children would feel," she said. "If they thought how difficult this has been for ourselves and our kids. And the biggest thing we are asking is that this thing be handled in a humanitarian way and it not be mixed with diplomacy or politics."

Hickey and Shourd had a message for their children.

Hickey: "I'd like to tell Shane, 'I love you very much.' We're working as hard as we can for you and we will get this done and you will be home."

Shourd: "Hi sweetie. I'll see you in a couple of days. If you can see me now, I have a big smile on my face because I know I'm going to see you."

Shourd, Hickey and Fattal are scheduled to leave for Iran on Tuesday. Repeated calls to the Iranian Mission to the United Nations for comment have not been returned.

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