MINNEAPOLIS - Two American hikers held captive in Iran have called home for only the third time since their arrest nearly two years ago.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 28, told their families that they had staged a 17-day hunger strike after they were stopped from receiving letters, the hikers' families said in a news release.

Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey of Pine City, Minn., and Fattal's mother, Laura Fattal of Elkins Park, began what they called a "rolling" hunger strike last Thursday out of concern that their sons also were fasting.

Fattal, Bauer and Bauer's fiancee, Sarah Shourd, were arrested along the Iraq-Iran border in July 2009 and held on espionage charges, which they deny. Shourd was allowed to return to the U.S. last year on bail. Iranian officials ordered her back to Tehran for the trial, and she has refused to do so.

The trial had been scheduled to resume on May 11, but the men weren't brought to court and no explanation was given to the families or their lawyer in Tehran.