TEHRAN, Iran — Iran will allow the mothers of three Americans arrested along the Iraqi border in July to visit them in a Tehran prison, the foreign minister announced Monday, saying the decision was made on humanitarian grounds.
The case of the three Americans, held for more than nine months, has exacerbated tensions between the two countries that were already high due to the standoff over Iran’s accelerating nuclear program and criticism of its crackdown on postelection protesters.
Raising further concern, Swiss diplomats who were allowed to visit the Americans on April 22 reported that two of them were in poor health, according to their families.
Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said on state television late Monday that the Iranian government has ordered the visas to be issued on humanitarian grounds.
Iran has accused Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal of illegal border crossing, espionage and having links to U.S. intelligence, and has said they would be brought to trial. Their families and the U.S. government have denied the spying accusations and called for their release.
The families of the three graduates of the University of California at Berkeley say they were hiking in the scenic Kurdistan region of northern Iraq and that if they did cross the border with Iran they did so unintentionally.
Mottaki said Iran made a decision to grant visas to the mothers before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended a co… >>>