May 6, 2010 -- The mothers of the three American hikers who have been held in Iran since July today made a public plea to Iranian officials to set politics aside and release their children.
"The two countries are at odds with each other and we don't want this mixed in with that," Cindy Hickey, mother of Shane Bauer, said on "Good Morning America."
The three Americans, Bauer, 27; Sarah Shourd, 31; and Josh Fattal, 27; were detained by Iranian officials July 31, 2009. They were reportedly hiking on a trail that winds along the unmarked Iran-Iraq border.
They have not yet been charged with a crime and have not been allowed to seek legal representation.
In an interview Tuesday with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos the Iranian President said it was up to a judge to decide whether the hikers' claim that they simply got lost was the truth as they would have to plead their case to him.
"They have to provide proof and evidence to the judge in Iran that shows that they lost their way or made a mistake," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said. "When the time comes, they will have a lawyer."
Ahmadinejad said he would make a recommendation to the judge to "render maximum cooperation" in regards to the case, but said he had no influence over the judge. The mothers disagreed.
"Stop playing games with our kids….it just needs to end," Nora Shourd said.
"This stuff about 'it is in the hands of the judiciary' is just ridiculous. After nine months the kids haven't been interrogated, there is no reason for it to be delayed any longer," Hickey said on "GMA."
The three mothers were in New York in hopes of meeting with Ahmadinejad when he came to the U.S. this week to speak to the U.N. at the conference on nuclear non-proliferation.
They never heard back about their request, but if the women had a chance to speak to the Iranian president they would have told him that their children are merely innocent hikers.
"If they crossed the border, he can talk to them and ask them about it. It is an alleged charge, we do not know if they crossed the border," Laura Fattal said. "And so I think any discussion with the three individuals will ensure the Iranian authorities that these young people had no intention of entering Iran."
Nora Shourd said they learned through a Swiss representative that the hikers are not doing well.
"Sarah is suffering from depression and talking about hunger strikes and we are really, really worried about them even more than we were before, if that is possible," Shroud said.
The mothers said their children don't know what is happening with the case but said they are grateful for the letters they have received.
Although the mothers have had very little contact with their children, Fattal's husband briefly spoke to their son by phone two months ago.
"[Josh] was so eager for outside contact, they are so eager to be out of their isolation. This is very very trying for them," Fattal said.
As for the speculation in Iran that the hikers could be spies, the mothers said "absolutely not."
"It would contradict everything about who they are. There is no way they are connected to any government agency," Hickey said.
Open Letter to President of Iran
In the letter, the parents asked that Ahmadinejad "invite our children to leave the darkness and despair of their prison cells and join you on your journey," according to the San Jose Mercury News. "It would be a most noble act of mercy and compassion, at a time when the world so desperately needs such acts."
The Americans, all UC 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.
Prisoner Says He Had Contact With Hikers
"The hiker I could sometime catch a glimpse of seemed at times a bit depressed" because of the difficult conditions of his detention, Idesbald van den Bosch told ABC News in January.
"It is clear imprisonment had an impact on him," van den Bosch said. "He did not look thin. We were well fed, well treated. We were not badly treated physically."
In February, Ahmadinejad proposed a prisoner swap of Iranians in the U.S. for the hikers, the Associated Press reported.
The Iranian president told state television, "there are some talks under way to have an exchange, if it is possible." 4444 "We are hopeful that all prisoners will be released," he said according to the AP.
Ahmadinejad did not name the Iranians the government claimed were being held, but the AP reported that in December the country released the names of 11 Iranians supposedly being held in the U.S.
At the time, National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said such discussions did not take place, but would welcome any questions about Iranians being held in the U.S.
"If President Ahmadinejad's comments suggest that they are prepared to resolve these cases, we would welcome that step," Hammer told the AP. "But we have not entered into any discussion with Iran about an exchange. As we have indicated publicly, if Iran has questions about its citizens in U.S. custody, we are prepared to answer them."
ABC News' Christophe Schpoliansky and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.