A top Iranian human rights secretary says Iran is looking into possibly allowing family members to visit three American hikers held in Iran since summer.
Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of Iran’s human rights council and a senior adviser, said in Geneva on Tuesday that the Swiss ambassador to Iran had put forward the request.
“We are studying the question with judges and those responsible for security,” Larijani said. “We recommended that the families be able to see them and I hope it will happen.”
The hikers’ families said they were encouraged by the remarks.
The Swiss have represented United States interests in Iran since diplomatic ties between the Americans and Iranians were severed shortly after the storming of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979.
The three hikers, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal, were arrested on July 31 after having allegedly crossed into Iran during a hike through the mountains of Iraq’s Kurdistan. The border is not clearly marked in this region. Iran has accused them of entering the country illegally with “suspicious goals”.
Swiss diplomats were able to meet with the American prisoners briefly in September. The families have had no contact with the hikers for at least 200 days.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said every country has heavy penalties for people who cross borders illegally. He hinted that the Americans would be free if Iranians held in US prisons were let go.
swissinfo.ch and agencies