Washington, D.C., May 24, 2010 - The mothers of the American hikers detained in Iran have told VOA that two of the hikers are now engaged to be married, and the third has agreed to be the best man at their wedding once they are released.
The mothers, who were interviewed on the VOA's Persian News Network (PNN) Monday, say they learned of the engagement late last week when they visited the three detained hikers for the first time in Tehran.
The hikers, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal, were seized by Iranian authorities last July. News reports say they accidentally strayed across the rugged, unmarked border while on a hiking vacation in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Shane Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey, told VOA that it was "devastating" to come home without the children. Hickey said the mothers would continue to appeal to the Iranian authorities to release their children on humanitarian grounds.
Hickey's son, Shane Bauer, proposed to Sarah Shourd in Evin Prison where they are being held. Bauer, a freelance journalist, had been living with Shourd in Syria when their friend Josh Fattal came to visit last July and they decided to go on the hiking trip to Kurdistan.
VOA has provided extensive coverage of the plight of the three hikers.
VOA's Persian News Network has an estimated weekly audience of nearly 20 percent of Iranians 15 and older according to a 2010 survey, despite Iranian efforts to jam international broadcast signals into the country.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States.
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