Iran Grants Swiss Access to Visit Detained Hikers

Iranian authorities this week allowed a Swiss diplomat a second visit with three detained American hikers arrested for illegal entry near the Iraq border in late July, the State Department said Friday.

Spokesman Robert Wood said the Swiss ambassador to Iran was granted consular access to Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal on Thursday "after repeated requests." He provided no details, citing privacy concerns but the families of the hikers said in a statement they were in "good physical shape."

They said the 40-minute visit was held at Evin Prison in Tehran, where the three are being held, and that the Swiss ambassador had brought them clothes and other supplies, including books and writing paper. The Swiss, who represent U.S. interests in Iran, were first allowed to visit the trio in late September.

"Today marks exactly three months since our children were detained, and we urge the Iranian authorities to let our children speak to us directly," the families said. "Every time our telephones ring, we hope they it is them calling to tell us they've been released."

"Shane, Sarah and Josh went hiking at the height of summer, and they had very few clothes, since they had planned to be on vacation for only a week," they said. "It's hard to believe it's now almost the winter, and they still haven't been released. We see no reason why Iranian authorities continue to hold them."

Bauer, Shourd and Fattal were arrested July 31 after straying over the Iranian border while hiking in northern Iraq. All are graduates of the University of California, Berkeley. The U.S. government and their families have appealed for their release, saying they were vacationing and did not mean to cross the border.