Iran disputes allegations that hikers mistreated

AP News
Posted: Jul 01, 2011 6:29 PM
Iran disputes allegations that hikers mistreated

Iran has not mistreated two imprisoned American hikers charged with spying, the country's mission to the U.N. said Friday.

In a statement sent to news media, the mission said that relatives of the hikers made "baseless allegations" during a Thursday news conference about Shane Bauer, 28, and Josh Fattal, 29.

The two men have been held in Iran for nearly two years on espionage charges and are expected to stand trial on July 31. The two Americans deny the charges against them and say they thought they were hiking in a scenic area of northern Iraq near Iran's border.

Bauer's fiance, Sarah Shourd, was arrested along with the men, but was released last September on $500,000 bail.

During the news conference, the men's relatives alleged their loved ones were being subjected to psychological torture, physical abuse and a lack of due process.

Shourd and the Americans' relatives _ including Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey, and Fattal's mother, Laura _ met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday and in a letter called on the U.N.'s special investigator on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, to look into the charges of mistreatment and seek the men's immediate release.

In its statement, the Iranian mission said it "categorically denies" the allegations. It said Shourd in the past had commented on "the high standards of welfare and ethics" she experienced during her time in prison, including the kindness of a female guard who brought her flowers.

Iran's mission also brought up the cases of several Iranians being held in U.S. custody "under false and unproven accusations," including a young woman named Shahrazad Mir Gholikhan.

The mother of twin girls was sentenced in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2009 to serve more than five years in federal prison for her role in a scheme to smuggle 3,500 pairs of military night-vision goggles to Iran in violation of the U.S. embargo.

Iran said it, too, is appealing to the United Nations to investigate its charges of mistreatment of its own citizens being held in U.S. custody.

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