The mothers of three Americans held in Iran marked 11 months of their captivity on Wednesday with a letter to the country’s supreme leader pleading for their release.
The letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was signed by the mothers of Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 28. Iranian officials have accused the three of espionage after they were taken into captivity along the Iran-Iraq border last July during what their families say was a hiking trip.
Cindy Hickey, Nora Shourd and Laura Fattal appealed to Khamenei to “intervene immediately in their case and bring the cruel injustice of their continued detention to an end.”
The mothers said their children should either be tried immediately or released, and complained they have been deprived of access to their lawyer, diplomatic visits and other human rights.
The mothers sought a meeting with Khamenei when they traveled to Iran last month but were not give one.
In Washington, the State Department repeated longstanding US calls for the three hikers and other Americans detained in Iran to be released and renewed a plea for information about Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who went missing there in 2007.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley made the appeals as Swiss Ambassador to Iran Livia Leu Agosti, whose country represents US interests in Tehran, was visiting Washington to mark the 30th anniversary of the agreement that established Switzerland as the “protecting power” for the US in Iran.
Crowley said Agosti had “greatly assisted our government in our efforts to ensure fair and human treatment” for the hikers as well as for another American, Reza Taghavi, who has been detained without charge since May 2008.
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Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
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An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications