In a letter to the prime minister released to the media Sunday, Jayalalithaa said the fishermen were contract labourers on fishing boats of a private company in Saudi Arabia.
"It is reported that these fishermen ventured into Iranian waters and were taken into custody in December 2012," she said in the letter.
According to her, the fishermen did not have access to legal aid and were convicted by an Iranian court. They were imprisoned for six months and each one of them has to pay a fine of USD 5,750.
Since they can't pay the fine, the 16 are still in jail, she said.
"What is more shocking is that they have not been able to contact the Indian embassy. No effort has been made by the Indian embassy to establish contact with them or to provide legal assistance to them or to put any pressure on the company which engaged them to secure their release by settling the fine," Jayalalithaa said.
She urged Manmohan Singh to direct the Indian embassy in Tehran to take steps to secure their release.
"I also request you to instruct the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia to take steps to settle the fine amount and ensure (their) release."
--IANS (Posted on 28-07-2013)