The fate of three Americans being held in Iran remains in question. The three were arrested last July after straying into Iranian territory from Iraq while on a hiking trip. Tehran accuses them of espionage, while Washington supports their claim and is demanding their release. The mothers of the three Americans are seeking their release.
It has been more than 200 days since Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal were arrested after crossing into Iranian territory, and more than 100 days since there has been any word from them.
Laura Fattal is Josh Fattal's mother:
"There is a hole in my heart, and the mothers of Josh, Shana and Sarah," said Laura Fattal. "There is a hole in their hearts. We need to have access to our children. We need to know they are healthy and well. We need to know they are eating and sleeping well. And we want them, of course, to be released, most importantly."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad indicated last month that his government was talking with the United States about a possible deal in which Iran would release the three jailed Americans in exchange for Iranians imprisoned in the United States. But U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has denied that talks were underway, while demanding the Americans' unilateral release.
The United States severed diplomatic relations with Iran in 1979, after Islamic radicals captured the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took scores of Americans hostage.
But Laura Fattal says that she and the other mothers of Americans now being held in Iran have applied for visas to visit their children.
"All three mothers are eager to see our children," she said. "And, of course, [we] would be very honored to meet with President Ahmadinejad, if he would like to meet with us, and of course [we would] explain to him that our children had no intention of going to Iran. There is no reason [that] after six months in detention, that they should be held one minute longer."
The secretary-general of the Iranian High Council for Human Rights, Mohammad Javad Larijani, told reporters on Tuesday in Geneva that it was "quite possible" that the three Americans indeed merely strayed across the Iranian border while hiking. And he recommended that they be permitted family visits, adding that Iranian authorities are considering a request by the families to visit them in prison.
Laura Fattal says she hopes the three Americans can soon get on with their lives.
"They have their entire lives in front of them and we are eager for them to pursue that as well as to hug and kiss them and have them back in our arms, and with us," said Laura Fattal.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Ahmadinejad says the fate of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal is up to his country's judicial system.