The mothers of the three UC Berkeley graduates who have been detained in Iran since July will soon be able to visit their children.

The Iranian foreign minister announced on Iranian television Monday that the mothers of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal would soon be issued visas to travel to the country. The government has decided to issue the visas on humanitarian grounds, said Manouchehr Mottaki, the foreign minister.

“We’re packed and ready to go,” Shourd’s mother, Nora Shourd, told the Oakland Tribune on Monday.  “We can start traveling at a moment’s notice, basically, if we get the actual visas in our hands.”

Bauer, Shourd and Fattal were hiking in northern Iraq in July when they strayed into Iranian territory. Iranian officials arrested them and suggested they were spying. Their families insist the trio wandered into Iran inadvertently.

The trio’s families have not been allowed to communicate with them or see them. They applied for visas to visit Iran in January, and have gotten some encouraging signals previously that they would be allowed to visit. But Mottaki’s statement is the strongest indication yet that they will get to go to the prison.

Shane Bauer’s mother, Cindy Hickey of rural Pine City, Minnesota, told the Associated Press that family members “have heard these rumblings before so we are being cautious with our optimism.” But, she said, “I have to say I’m more hopeful than I’ve ever been.”

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...