(AFP) – Jul 1, 2011
TEHRAN — Tehran on Friday rejected comments made by the mothers of two US hikers held in Iran for nearly two years who said their sons were abused, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"The comments made about the conditions of the two imprisoned Americans are rejected," said a statement issued by Iran's mission at the United Nations reported by IRNA.
The mothers of US hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have urged the United Nations to investigate what they they described as psychological torture, physical abuse and sexual harassment of their sons.
The made the appeal in a letter Thursday after a meeting the previous day with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The comments raise "serious suspicion (that they were made under) political pressure," the Iranian statement said.
Bauer, 28, and Fattal, 29, were arrested in late July 2009 near the border between northern Iraq and Iran.
The pair are being held on charges of spying and entering Iran illegally, and the Islamic republic has set a date of July 31 for the next hearing in their repeatedly delayed trial, according to their lawyer.
They have pleaded not guilty to spying charges, saying they were hiking in Iraq's northern province of Kurdistan when they innocently strayed into Iran across the unmarked border.
The Iranian statement said the pair are being held "in appropriate condition in prison," where they are allowed "consular visits", the right to "a number of phone calls" and receive letters and books.
It also mentioned a visit in May 2010 during which they were allowed to see their mothers at a Tehran hotel.
"Their arrest is completely a judicial issue... trying to solve this issue through political and media will be futile," the statement added.
Iran has set a date of July 31 for the next hearing in the trial of the two hikers.
Bauer and Fattal were allowed to call home in May for just the third time since their arrest and told their families they had staged a 17-day hunger strike earlier that year after being prevented from receiving letters.
Also in May Iran implicitly rejected a US State Department request to grant better access to Fattal and Bauer by allowing Swiss diplomats to visit them.
Switzerland represent US interests in Iran, which has no diplomatic ties with the United States.
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