Missing Hikers: Families Plead for Safety of Americans Held in Iran

Three hikers were detained by armed guards, accused of illegal border crossing.

ByABC News via logo
August 19, 2009, 8:13 PM

Aug. 20, 2009— -- The families of three Americans who have been detained in Iran since late last month after a hiking trip gone wrong say the trio were typically very careful and aware of their surroundings.

And they're eager to hear word from their loved ones, as Iran has disclosed little information about the hikers' status since their July 31 detainment.

Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 30, and Joshua Fattal, 27, were taken into custody while hiking in the mountains along the border of Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq's self-ruled Kurdish region in the north, and Iran. They were surrounded by armed Iranian guards and taken into custody after they strayed across the border into Iran.

They have been accused of ignoring border patrol and possibly spying, but the Iranian government has not disclosed the charges against the Americans nor allowed anyone to visit them.

Family members of the hikers told "Good Morning America" today that the area is heavily wooded with few markings that would indicate where exactly the border was.

"There's not like a big sign saying, 'You're about to go into Iran,'" Shannon Bauer, Shane Bauer's sister, said.

"They're meticulous planners," said Chris Rapp, Shourd's brother. "Typically they're very careful about where they are and what they're doing."

U.S. officials are looking into the Americans' fate, but have gotten few answers thus far.

"We asked our Swiss partners who represent our interests in Iran to please pursue our inquiries to determine the status of the three missing Americans," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Aug. 3.

The State Department admitted Wednesday that "no progress" has been made.

"Switzerland has not been granted consular access to the three American hikers. Iran has not provided information about their location and whether or not any charges have been filed against them," said State Department spokesman Ian Kelly. "We are deeply concerned about their safety and welfare."