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Campaign offers many ways to support imprisoned hikers in Iran

This week was a rocky one for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, who were arrested by Iranian forces more than two years ago while on a recreational hike in Iraqi Kurdistan and recently sentenced to eight years for espionage, and their supporters. (A third hiker, Sarah Shourd, was freed last year.) First, Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that they would be released this week on $500,000 bail, only to have the Iranian courts step in and say that he did not have the authority to let them go.

In response to the continued imprisonment of Shane and Josh, a vibrant, multifaceted campaign has emerged to call for their freedom. The New York Times gives a good recap of the various ways supporters can plug in and get involved:

There is a Facebook group for supporters of the hikers… [that] has 30,000 members, and its information page lists six official online outlets, independent of the hundreds of groups and blogs created by individuals:

In addition to these more traditional tools, celebrities, like Yusuf Islam (the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens) and Muhammad Ali have gotten involved and called for their release. There are also:

35 different “free the hikers” items for sale on the online customization site Zazzle, including hoodies (about $35) and mouse pads (about $10), the concept of Nate Lindstrom, whose brother-in-law is Mr. Bauer, according to information on the site. Organic cotton T-shirts with supportive slogans are also available online at Laughingstock Designs. All net proceeds go to defraying the families’ costs in the campaign for the hikers’ freedom, the Web site says.

The site also posts calls for supporters on Twitter to use the hashtag of the hikers’ initials #ssj, to hold a vigil, sign a petition, or even go to a dance party.