Image: Cindy Hickey, Sarah Shourd and Laura Fattal
Stephen Chernin  /  AP
Sarah Shourd, center, stands with Cindy Hickey, mother of Shane Bauer, left, and Laura Fattal, mother of Josh Fattal during a news conference in New York in September, 2010. Hickey and Fattal say they're launching a hunger strike in the wake of Iran's unexplained postponement of their sons' trial.
updated 5/19/2011 6:07:54 AM ET 2011-05-19T10:07:54

The mothers of two Americans held in Iran for nearly two years said they are starting a hunger strike Thursday in solidarity with their sons, whom they believe are fasting while awaiting trial on espionage charges.

The announcement from the mothers comes after Iranian authorities last week delayed the trial of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 28, without explanation.

Story: Iran again delays spy trial for Americans

Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey of Pine City, Minn., told The Associated Press that she and Fattal's mother, Laura Fattal, believe their sons are fasting. So the mothers plan to do the same and will drink only water to show support for their sons.

"We're going to do this as long as we can," Hickey said Wednesday.

She said others, including Bauer's fiancée, Sarah Shourd, 32, will join the "rolling" hunger strike on Saturday.

"When we can't do it anymore, we'll hand it off," Hickey said.

'We're desperate'
Shourd, Bauer and Fattal were arrested along the Iraq-Iran border in July 2009. Shourd was allowed to return to the U.S. last year on bail. Iranian officials ordered her back to Tehran for the trial, but she declined to return.

"It is a dangerous thing," Hickey, 50, said of the mothers' plans to fast. "It's 21 months (that Bauer and Fattal have been gone), we don't have them home. We need people to stand with us. We're desperate. ... It affects our lives in a huge way, all of us, and we need for it to end."

Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of Hickey and Laura Fattal's visit to Tehran, the only time they have seen their sons since their arrest on July 31, 2009.

It was one year ago Saturday that the mothers, including Shourd's mother, Nora Shourd, who also was on the trip, left Iran without their children. Sarah Shourd, who got engaged to her boyfriend Bauer after their arrest, was released in September.

The three say they were hiking in Iraq's northern Kurdish region and that any crossing into Iran was inadvertent. They deny the espionage charges.

"Whoever is to blame for preventing our sons' release is bringing shame on Iran. Shane and Josh have been denied justice and compassion for too long," Laura Fattal said in a news release announcing the hunger strike.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Not guilty pleas for U.S. hikers on trial in Iran

  1. Transcript of: Not guilty pleas for U.S. hikers on trial in Iran

    LESTER HOLT, anchor (Amman, Jordan): A trial began today for those three young American hikers arrested by Iran 18 months ago and charged with spying. NBC 's Tehran bureau chief Ali Arouzi has been following today's proceedings.

    ALI AROUZI reporting: The trial of the three US hikers finally got under way today after many delays. Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were present at Iran 's Revolutionary Court , but Sarah Shourd , who was released on bail, was not present. It appears as though she will be tried in absentia. Today's proceedings were a closed-door proceedings, and the authorities here imposed a blanket ban on all observers, which included the Swiss ambassador who represents American interests in Iran . We do know that, at today's trial, charges of espionage and illegally entering Iran were read out against the three Americans and pleas of not guilty were submitted by their lawyer. Two ominous signs that are surrounding this trial are that it comes at a time when anti-American rhetoric is at fever pitch as Iran prepares to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution . Also, the judge presiding over the trials was the same judge that presided over the mass trials of the protesters of the violently disputed 2009 elections here. He's a hard-liner that has a reputation for handing down harsh sentences. The agonizing wait for the hikers and their families continues as we wait to hear from authorities in Iran when the second session of this trial will commence. Back to you, Lester .

    HOLT: NBC 's Ali Arouzi in Tehran .

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