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We Want to Negotiate by Joel Simon
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We Want to Negotiate

The Secret World of Kidnapping, Hostages and Ransom

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Narrator Rob Shapiro
Length 5 hours 5 minutes
Language English
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Starting in late 2012, Westerners working in Syria -- journalists and aid workers -- began disappearing without a trace. A year later the world learned they had been taken hostage by the Islamic State. Throughout 2014, all the Europeans came home, first the Spanish, then the French, then an Italian, a German, and a Dane. In August 2014, the Islamic State began executing the Americans -- including journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, followed by the British hostages.

Joel Simon, who in nearly two decades at the Committee to Protect Journalists has worked on dozens of hostages cases, delves into the heated hostage policy debate. The Europeans paid millions of dollars to a terrorist group to free their hostages. The US and the UK refused to do so, arguing that any ransom would be used to fuel terrorism and would make the crime more attractive, increasing the risk to their citizens. We Want to Negotiate is an exploration of the ethical, legal, and strategic considerations of a bedeviling question: Should governments pay ransom to terrorists?

JOEL SIMON is the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. In this role he has worked hard over two decades to try to bring dozens of reporters home to America. He has written widely on press freedom issues for publications including Slate, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, Columbia Journalism Review, and World Policy Journal. He is the author of The New Censorship: Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom (Columbia University Press, 2015), and Endangered Mexico: An Environment on the Edge (Sierra Club Books, 1997). Prior to joining CPJ in 1997, he worked as a freelance journalist in Latin America. A graduate of Amherst College and Stanford University, he lives in New York City.

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