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Iranian Expats Joining Hunger Strike For Jailed Americans

U.S. citizens Shane Bauer (left) and Josh Fattal have been held in Iran on spying charges for nearly two years.
Several prominent Iranian expats have joined in a hunger strike with the mothers of Americans Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who have been imprisoned in Iran for nearly two years, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Laura Fattal and Cindy Hickey, Bauer's mother, said they are being joined in their rotating hunger strike by Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, Iranian-British actress and Amnesty International spokeswoman Nazanin Boniadi, National Iranian American Council President Trita Parsi, and a group of Iranian-American students, among others.

Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd were arrested by Iranian border guards in July 2009 in a mountainous area of the Iran-Iraq border and charged with espionage. They say they got lost while hiking and mistakenly crossed the Iranian border.

Shourd -- who is engaged to Bauer -- was freed due to health reasons after spending 410 days in an Iranian prison. She will join the hunger strike starting today.

Hickey told Radio Farda in an interview on June 2 that "as the third week of our [rotating] hunger strike begins, the Iranian-Americans [and others] are joining our act of support [for our kids]."

She added: "We were joined last week by some people who had previously been imprisoned, while [famous public speaker and author] Deepak Chopra also joined our cause [and fasted]."

"We mothers have started the hunger strike in sympathy with Josh and Shane and shall not end it until our children are sent back home," Hickey said.

"July 2011 will mark two years since their arrest, and I could never have thought that it would take this long [for them to return home]," she said. "As Sarah was released about nine months ago, we are still hopeful for our children's release, yet we are unaware of when this might happen."

Hickey added: "They were not taken to court on May 11 as per schedule, and we still do not know why, while we are also unaware of whether any other court date has been set yet."

She said it has been hard on the two families as they have no update from Iranian officials on the two men's case or why they did not appear in court.

Josh Fattal and Bauer have also gone on a hunger strike while in prison to protest against not being able to receive mail from their families.