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Page last updated at 23:48 GMT, Thursday, 20 August 2009 00:48 UK

Campaign for US trio held in Iran

Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, Joshua Fattal (file images)
The three were "totally harmless" travellers, said their families

The families of three young Americans held in Iran after allegedly entering the country illegally have set up a website to campaign for their release.

Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal had made a "regrettable mistake" when they crossed into Iran from Iraqi Kurdistan in July, relatives said.

They were "totally harmless" and "cared deeply about the world", they said.

Iran has confirmed the arrests but the family says the trio have not been charged and have had no consular aid.

The three Americans admired different cultures and shared a love of travel, a statement on the website said.

"That's why they went to Kurdistan, not because they wanted to enter Iran."

The trio are thought to have crossed the often poorly-marked Iranian border while hiking in Iraq's Kurdish region, an area the website says is popular with tourists.

Their whereabouts in Iran remains unclear and the family said they had not been charged or allowed any contact with home.

"Right now, I think all anyone can hope for is to be able to talk to them," said Mr Bauer's sister, Shannon, at the New York launch of the website.

On Saturday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was "deeply concerned" about the trio's continued detention.

"We once again call on the Iranian government to live up to its obligations under the Vienna Convention by granting consular access and releasing these three young Americans without further delay," she said in a statement.



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