Family of hikers held in Iran seek UN backing
The young woman hiker released by the Iranian government nine months ago and relatives of two U.S. men, still in custody on spying charges, appealed to the U.N. Thursday for support as the trial date nears, the Associated Press reported.
Shane Bauer, 28, and Josh Fattal, 29, have been held in Iran nearly two years on espionage charges and are expected to stand trial on July 31.
"We are praying that the next hearing will mean freedom at last for Shane and Josh," said Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey, said at a news conference at U.N. headquarters.
Hickey and Shourd, Fattal's mother, Laura Fattal, and his brother Alex met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday and in a letter called on the U.N.'s special investigator on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, to seek the men's immediate release saying "certain forces are holding them as pawns in a cynical game that has absolutely nothing to do with justice or the rule of law."
The men deny the charges against them and say they thought they were hiking in a scenic area of northern Iraq near Iran's border.
Bauer's fiance, Sarah Shourd, was arrested along with the men, but was released last September on $500,000 bail.
A call seeking comment from the Iranian mission to the U.N. was not immediately returned.