PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The remaining two American hikers jailed in Iran were permitted a brief phone call to their families during the Thanksgiving weekend.
One of those hikers is Josh Fattal, who is from Elkins Park, Montgomery County.
In speaking to the Fattal family Monday, Pat Ciarrocchi learned they’re relieved to hear his voice, but worried about his isolation.
It’s been 16 months since Josh, and his friends, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd, were detained after inadvertently crossing into Iranian territory, while they were hiking in a resort area of Iraq.
Laura Fattal hasn’t heard Josh’s voice since May, when the mothers of the hikers were allowed to visit their children in Iraq.
The call came in on Saturday at 7:55 a.m.
“I picked up and said just, “Hello.” And he said, Hi, Mom. It’s Josh.”
For Laura, it sounded as if he was just around the corner. She wishes that had been so.
“I just started speaking … we love you, we love you. We can’t wait to see you. Be assured … everyone’s working full time to get you home and you are coming home.”
The five minute call caught all of Josh’s family at home. Diplomatic sources put them on high alert for the call, so, Josh’s father and brother were able to speak to him, too, along with a familiar house guest. Sarah Shourd, the third hiker released in September happened to spend Thanksgiving weekend with the Fattals.
“Sarah experienced the prison,” said Laura. “And she’s been very careful not to give me details that would be uncomfortable for me know. They have not been harmed in any way. We just learned that he’s okay … physically that he’s okay … the food and sanitation are okay … but the isolation continues and that’s heartbreaking.
Josh’s younger brother, Alex, spends his days away from his Harvard graduate studies, to work on what he calls, “the campaign.” It’s Free the Hikers — a website, social media and developing parallel support for their release from notable world figures.
“He is so thirsty for information,” Alex said. “So deprived of information that he wanted to hear from us what in the world is going on.”
But the phone call left him troubled.
“Now the isolation is increasing and that’s very worrying. The letters aren’t getting through, the books aren’t getting through … they’ve got nothing, except letters and books.”
Since Sarah’s release in September, Josh told his family he’s received only two letters. The most recent dated October 22nd and no books. The family writes every day. He also told them that his daily time outside the cell he shares with Shane has been reduced from two hours to 40 minutes.
The Fattals say, if Sarah is innocent and released, so should Josh and Shane. They say it’s time for them to come home.
Reported By: Pat Ciarrocchi