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Moms Of US Hikers Held In Iran Start Hunger Strike

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A picture obtained from Iran's state-run English-language Press TV shows detained US hikers (L-R) Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal waiting to meet their mothers for the first time since their arrest, in the Iranian capital Tehran on May 20, 2010. The mothers of three US hikers detained for 10 months in Iran called for their release as a "humanitarian gesture" after an emotional reunion with their children, an AFP correspondent said. (credit: AFP/Getty Images)

A picture obtained from Iran’s state-run English-language Press TV shows detained US hikers (L-R) Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal waiting to meet their mothers for the first time since their arrest, in the Iranian capital Tehran on May 20, 2010. The mothers of three US hikers detained for 10 months in Iran called for their release as a “humanitarian gesture” after an emotional reunion with their children, an AFP correspondent said. (credit: AFP/Getty Images)

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The mothers of two U.S. hikers held in Iran for nearly two years said they are starting a hunger strike Thursday in solidarity with their sons, whom they believe are fasting while awaiting trial on espionage charges.

The announcement from the mothers comes after Iranian authorities last week delayed the trial of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 28, without explanation.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Bruce Hagevik Reports

Bauer’s mother, Cindy Hickey of Pine City, Minn., told The Associated Press that she and Fattal’s mother, Laura Fattal, believe their sons are fasting. So the mothers plan to do the same and will drink only water to show support for their sons.

“We’re going to do this as long as we can,” Hickey said Wednesday.

She said others, including Bauer’s fiancDee, Sarah Shourd, 32, will join the “rolling” hunger strike on Saturday.

“When we can’t do it anymore, we’ll hand it off,” Hickey said.

Shourd, Bauer and Fattal were arrested along the Iraq-Iran border in July 2009. Shourd was allowed to return to the U.S. last year on bail. Iranian officials ordered her back to Tehran for the trial, but she declined to return.

“It is a dangerous thing,” Hickey, 50, said of the mothers’ plans to fast. “It’s 21 months (that Bauer and Fattal have been gone), we don’t have them home. We need people to stand with us. We’re desperate. … It affects our lives in a huge way, all of us, and we need for it to end.”

Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of Hickey and Laura Fattal’s visit to Tehran, the only time they have seen their sons since their arrest on July 31, 2009. It was one year ago Saturday that the mothers, including Shourd’s mother, Nora Shourd, who also was on the trip, left Iran without their children. Sarah Shourd, who got engaged to her boyfriend Bauer after their arrest, was released in September.

The three say they were hiking in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region and that any crossing into Iran was inadvertent. They deny the espionage charges.

“Whoever is to blame for preventing our sons’ release is bringing shame on Iran. Shane and Josh have been denied justice and compassion for too long,” Laura Fattal said in a news release announcing the hunger strike.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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