Detained Hikers Contact Hopeful Family Members

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A Thanksgiving weekend phone call from Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, UC Berkeley graduates who have been detained in Iran since July 2009, gave their families reason to be grateful.

Cindy Hickey received the five-minute phone call early on the morning of Nov. 27 from her son, Bauer. An hour later, Fattal spoke with his family.

"His voice was very strong, but he was very confused as to why he was still there," Hickey said. "I hear more frustration in his voice than I ever have before."

While hiking near the Iran-Iraq border over a year ago, Bauer, Fattal and Bauer's fiance Sarah Shourd were detained by Iranian officials and accused of espionage and trespassing. Shourd was released in September after a lump was found in her left breast.

Shourd was able to speak with Fattal during his call home Nov. 27.

This call is only the second in the 16 months that Bauer and Fattal have been in Iran, though Hickey, Shourd's mother and Fattal's mother were able to visit their children in May.

Though media outlets have reported that the two have a court case set for Feb. 6, Hickey said they have not gotten the "official word" that the case will resume then after it was pushed back from its original date, Nov. 6.

She added the amount of time the prisoners are allowed outside has decreased to 40 minutes per day since Shourd was released, and they have not been able to meet with their attorney since May.

However, Hickey said the families have weekly conference calls with the attorney. She added that neither the family nor the lawyer know much about what is going on with the case.

Hickey said she was grateful to be able to speak to her son, but she said she wished the phone call was longer.

"There's a lot of questions I wished I would have asked and a lot of things I wished I would have said," she said.

The families hope to rally support to free the prisoners through demonstrations planned for this month. Shourd released a song Wednesday to increase support for their release.

Hickey and Fattal's older brother, Alex Fattal, said they hope the detainees will receive a humanitarian release soon and will not have to return for a court case.

"Ultimately, we believe Iran will do the humane thing, the just thing and the compassionate thing, and they can come home already," he said. "We think there's no better time than the holiday season."


Contact Victoria Pardini at [email protected]

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