Shane Bauer's mom scores Iran visa

Pine City's Cindy Hickey is one step closer to visiting her son Shane Bauer in an Iranian prison, after the government there issued visas to her and the mothers of the two other hikers being held as spies.

Freelance journalist Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27, were locked up last July while hiking on the Iranian side of its border with Iraq.

Laura Fattal, Josh's mom, picked up the visas yesterday. (Video after the jump.)

"I'm guarding these passports tight," she told CNN. "I'm holding them very, very tight to me. I will keep them very, very guarded and I cannot wait to hand them personally to Nora (Shourd) and to Cindy (Hickey) so that they will have them in their hands."

It's not clear yet when the mothers will leave for Tehran, and whether they will be able to do more for the trio than comfort them.

Outside Magazine's Hampton Sides writes this month that one of the obstacles facing those trying to free the hikers is that they haven't captured the news media's imagination. Why not? They're not part of the mainstream media, which he says tends to close ranks around its own:

For all the hikers have endured, the stateside response has been muted compared with the attention lavished last year on Roxana Saberi, or on Current TV journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee--who strayed across North Korea's border from China in March 2009 and were sentenced to 12 years' hard labor before being granted amnesty two months later. Few people buy the Iranians' claim that the hikers were working for the CIA. But they lack powerful media sponsors, and they suffer from a widespread perception that their predicament is their own fault.

Laura Fattal told CNN there's no reason to believe the mothers will be allowed to bring their children home, but she remains hopeful.

Swiss diplomats visiting the hikers in April reported that they were ill and considering a hunger strike.

Via, here's some video of Laura, in tears, heading to pick up the visas:

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