MINNEAPOLIS — Shane Bauer wove an engagement ring out of threads from his shirt, then met his girlfriend in an unlikely place for a marriage proposal: the exercise yard of the Iranian prison where the couple has been locked up for nearly a year.
The mothers of both young Americans said Monday that their children will get married whenever they are released. They were taken into custody and accused of spying for the United States when they went for a hike in July along the border between Iraq and Iran.
The engagement "shows they're continuing to have hope. They're planning for the future, which is very good," Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey of Pine City, Minn., told the Associated Press, two days after she and Sarah Shourd's mother returned to the United States after a short visit to see their children.
They were joined on the journey by the mother of a third American, Josh Fattal, Bauer's college roommate, who is also imprisoned and will be the couple's best man.
Hickey said her son fashioned the crude engagement ring and proposed in January at Tehran's Evin Prison.
Bauer and Fattal share a prison cell. Shourd is held separately but is allowed to see the two men for about an hour each day. On the day Bauer proposed, he asked Fattal to hang back from their daily meeting so he could pop the question, the mothers said.
Over the weekend, Iran's intelligence minister said his country would be open to a prisoner swap if Washington makes a humanitarian gesture toward Iranians in U.S. custody comparable to the decision to permit the mothers' visit.
"We've heard that before, and the thing is we have no control over it," Hickey said of a potential prisoner exchange. "We can't spend a whole lot of time thinking in that direction."