Reuters: The mothers of three Americans jailed in Iran since last July accused of spying arrived in Tehran on Wednesday, with the Iranian government saying it was allowing them to visit their children as a “humanitarian act”.
By Ramin Mostafavi
TEHRAN (Reuters) – The mothers of three Americans jailed in Iran since last July accused of spying arrived in Tehran on Wednesday, with the Iranian government saying it was allowing them to visit their children as a “humanitarian act”.
The arrests of Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27, during Iran’s tense post-election period further complicated relations between old foes Tehran and Washington, which are facing off over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“We miss our children. We have not seen them for 10 months,” one of the mothers told reporters at Iran’s International Imam Khomeini Airport.
“We love you. We miss you. We hope you come back home soon,” said another one. “I hope we meet them soon.”
The three were wearing head-to-toe black veils to respect Iran’s Islamic dress code. They were welcomed by the Swiss ambassador to Tehran.
The families of the three deny the spying allegations and say they merely strayed into Iran while hiking in northern Iraq.
“Iran has allowed the mothers … to visit their children as a humanitarian act based on religious rules to show the world the Islamic Republic’s behavior in this case,” Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi said, IRNA news agency reported.
Their lawyer Masoud Shafie’i told Reuters on Tuesday the mothers would be allowed to visit their jailed children on Thursday or Friday.
On Sunday, French teacher Clotilde Reiss, who was arrested on spying charges in July, was sent home from Iran. France has denied it agreed a prisoner exchange deal and said there was no connection to the freeing on Tuesday of an Iranian jailed in France for killing Iran’s last prime minister under the Shah.
The United States has no diplomatic relations with Iran. Swiss diplomats represent U.S. interests there but Washington has said they have been given very little access to the three Americans.
Iran’s nuclear stand-off with the West has intensified over the last two days as Washington issued a new draft of U.N. sanctions backed by Russia and China. (Writing by Parisa Hafezi and Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Charles Dick)