Exclusive: American Hikers Detained in Iran Engaged

Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd to be wed after more than 9 months in Iranian jail.

May 4, 2010, 7:20 PM

May 24, 2010 — -- After months of worrying, the mothers of three American hikers detained in Iran have reason to celebrate today: two of their children are getting married.

Shane Bauer completed his proposal to Sarah Shourd by offering her a ring made a string he fashioned in his prison cell.

In an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America," the mothers of Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd announced the couple's recent engagement.

"Shane proposed to Sarah…he made a little ring out of the threads from his shirt and she has a ring," a teary Nora Shourd, Sarah's mother, said. "They are going to get married as soon as they have their freedom."

"They have been in love for a long time. This was going on and they asked Cindy and I if it was okay if they got married, and of course it is okay. We are happy to be families together," Nora Shourd said on "GMA."

Shane proposed to Sarah while in the exercise area, the mothers said, and Josh Fattal, the other captured hiker, will be the best man at their wedding.

"They need to be free so they can carry on their lives…he loves her and they have gone through a lot in life together and, specifically now, and they are anxious for us all to be a family," Shane Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey, said.

The happy news comes just days after the mothers were granted their first visits with the hikers in Tehran, Iran. It was the first time the mothers have seen the hikers since the group was arrested in July for crossing the Iranian border and accused of spying by Iranian officials.

The mothers had hoped to convince Iran to free their children during the visit, but after two days the moms flew home without them.

The three mothers told "GMA" that they held onto their children the entire time during their visit.

"I just hung onto him and gave him this long hug and we were constantly holding each other's hands," Cindy Hickey said.

Iran Calls Hikers Spies, Suggests Prisoner Swap

Fattal said the children were very happy to see them.

Fattal, 27, along with Bauer, 27, and Shourd, 31, has spent more than nine months in an Iranian prison. No formal charges have been brought against the three hikers and though they have lawyers, they have not been allowed to meet with them.

Fattal and Bauer are in a cell together, but Shourd is in a cell alone. Her mother said Shourd "looked to me thin... like she's been in prison," but said the trio were keeping up a regimen of exercise and were "nurturing each other, taking care of each other."

The solitude for Shourd was the hardest thing to handle, her mother told "GMA."

"It's very difficult to be in isolation for 10 months," Norah Shourd said.

While the mothers were visiting Iran they said they did not meet with any Iranian officials.

"There were always people with us, but I think that they were their immediate, you know, people who hold them," Nora Shourd said."We were never real sure who we were with."

Hopes for a quick release became complicated this past weekend when Iran's intelligence minister called the three hikers spies and suggested a prisoner swap between Iran and the U.S.

On Sunday, Iranian Intelligence Minister Haidar Moslehi said the three Americans' "status as spies is a clear and obvious case," according to state TV.

But Moslehi said there would be a chance of discussing a prisoner exchange with the U.S. once Washington makes a humanitarian gesture toward Iranians in U.S. custody similar to the one Iran made last week toward the mothers.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have been heightened by the U.S. effort to impose new sanctions on Iran in an effort to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

The mothers greeted the group exuberantly while wearing long black robes and carrying bouquets of flowers.

After the initial reunion with their mothers, the three hikers spoke to reporters and described their captivity.

Bauer said the group had a "decent relationship" with the guards and that "it's been civil."

Josh Fattal said the officials eventually allowed the Americans to have books while in confinement.

"Once we started getting books, that really helped the prison experience a lot," he said.

Shourd's mother told "GMA" last week before the moms left for Iran that she was worried about her daughter because Swiss officials told her Sarah was suffering from depression and considering a hunger strike.

The Swiss officials said Shourd was also suffering from a serious gynecological condition and Bauer had a stomach ailment, The Associated Press reported.

U.S. Hikers Get Engaged in Iranian Prison

CLICK HERE to see what Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos about the hikers.

The Americans, all University of California-Berkeley graduates, entered northern Iraq with visas from Turkey on July 28 and planned to spend five days in the area, according to a Web site dedicated to the hikers' release.

Click here to read a full transcript of George Stephanopoulos' interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.

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