Noam Chomsky and Supporters Rally for Jailed Hikers on Eve of Trial

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Editor’s Note: A trial for the trio of jailed hikers in Iran is set to begin on Sunday, Feb. 6, nearly a year and a half since their arrest. Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal are still in an Iranian jail. Sarah Shourd, the third hiker and Bauer’s fiancé, was released in September. The three were arrested by Iranian authorities when they apparently strayed across the Iran-Iraq border in the Kurdish area of Iraq. The website FreeTheHikers.org has been campaigning for their release for a while.

In a video message posted on the “Free The Hikers” website, the American academic Noam Chomsky appealed to Tehran to release Bauer and Fattal, saying he would personally testify on their behalf. Chomsky is a well-known figure on Iranian media for his outspoken criticism of U.S. foreign policy.

In the video, Chomsky described the two detained Americans “extraordinary young people” who “have dedicated themselves to advocating social and environmental justice,” and “truly embody the spirit of humanitarianism.” He said he would “be happy to testify on their good record and their dedication to worthy and important causes.”

Shane Bauer accepted a post as a correspondent for New America Media in July 2008, based in the Middle East. Bauer’s fluency in Arabic and talent as a photojournalist allowed him to keenly observe and report on the everyday lives of Arabs across the region.

“We regard Mr. Bauer as a talented photojournalist dedicated to helping Americans gain a clearer picture of the lives and perspectives of ordinary Arabs throughout the region,” said New America Media Executive Editor Sandy Close, in a written statement last year.