The mothers of three Americans in Iranian detention since July were said to be leaving Iran after a second meeting with their children, having failed in their effort to secure their immediate release.
An Iranian lawyer for the three, who have been accused by Iranian authorities of spying but insist they inadvertently strayed across the Iraqi border into Iran while hiking, was quoted by RFE/RL's Radio Farda as suggesting the mothers were frustrated in their efforts to meet with senior Iranian officials.
The lawyer, Masud Shafii, told Radio Farda by telephone that he was in the car with the three women and that the mothers were "on their way to the airport to return to their country."
Shafii also appeared to signal that there was no breakthrough with Iranian authorities in the cases, expressing confidence that "once the case goes to court, based on existing evidence, my clients will be acquitted."
The mothers of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal made impassioned pleas for their children's release when they met with them in a televised reunion on May 20.
It did not appear that the mothers had secured the immediate release of the three, as agencies reported that the mothers were not accompanied by their children on their way to the airport.
Some 10 months after they were picked up and jailed, Iranian officials said they were granting the mothers visas in a "humanitarian" gesture.
The three U.S. nationals are being held at Tehran's Evin prison.
The case has strained already tense relations between Tehran and Washington, which accuses Iran of covertly developing a nuclear bomb-making capacity.
The U.S. military in Iraq has meanwhile freed two Iranian prisoners held for years from its custody, according to Iranian and other sources quoted by CNN and other agencies, who said the Iraqi government was involved in talks on the men's fates. CNN quoted unnamed Iranian officials as saying the cases had nothing to do with the three Americans' cases, and it quoted the U.S. military as saying two men captured in 2004 and 2007 had been released to Iraqi custody in 2009.
Earlier this week, Ali Vakili Rad, who was serving a life sentence for the murder of a pre-revolutionary Iranian leader in 1991, was released
by French authorities just two days after Iran freed a French teaching assistant who had been held on charges of spying in Tehran amid the unrest that followed last June's disputed presidential election. Some French and Iranian critics have accused the governments of orchestrating an effective swap of prisoners, a charge that both Paris and Tehran dismissed.compiled from Radio Farda and agency reports