MINNEAPOLIS — The families of two Americans imprisoned in Iran for nearly two years say they're counting on a court hearing Sunday to end their ordeal at last.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, are due for what Iranian authorities have said will be a final hearing in their espionage case. It's scheduled two years to the day after they were arrested along with another American, Sarah Shourd, during a hike on the Iraq-Iran border. Shourd was released in September.
Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey of Pine City, Minn., said she'll be up all night praying.
"As a mother I'm always holding out hope, but it's been two years. . . . It's time for this to be heard in court and for a release to be made," Hickey said, adding that she's heard "some really positive comments coming out of Tehran" that give her hope.
Hickey was referring to remarks by Tehran's chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, who told Iran's official news agency in June that officials "are hopeful that the final decision about the three Americans' case will be taken" at Sunday's hearing. He did not hint at what the decision might be. But the families, who have long maintained the hikers' innocence, took his comments as a good sign that their ordeal will soon be over.
"They themselves said that it will be the final decision, at that point, and the final hearing. So I have every belief that they will live (up) to this, and I am more than eager to see Josh and Shane come home," said Josh's mother, Laura Fattal, of Elkins Park, Pa. She also said she sees the hearing date — the second anniversary of their arrest — as a good sign.
Shourd, now 32, and Bauer got engaged in prison before she was released on what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said were humanitarian grounds following health issues. She said she's also managing to be optimistic.