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Iran Hostage Diplomacy : What next?

28 October 2020
3:00 pm 4:00 pm, GMT

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Over recent years the Iranian regime has continually arrested and arbitrarily detained dual and foreign nationals, often under the pretext of protecting national security or counterterrorism.

In reality, those detained are innocent of all charges and have instead been targeted to be used as political bargaining chips to further foreign policy interests of the Iranian regime – a practice that has become known as “hostage diplomacy”.

The international community has been strong in its condemnation of the Iranian regime, with the United Nations, the European Union and national governments all taking measures to secure the release of those unjustly detained in Iran.

Yet states have typically struggled to secure the release of their citizens, negotiations are unsuccessful more often than not and ultimately the awful practice of hostage diplomacy continues.

The International Observatory of Human Rights’ #FreeRouhaniHostages campaign focuses on securing the release of all dual and foreign nationals in Iran and incentivising the Iranian regime to pursue different approaches in their diplomatic dealings. To this end we have put together a panel of experts to discuss the issue of “Iran Hostage Diplomacy : What next?”

Our panel will explore a wide range of themes relating to the practice of hostage diplomacy, including but not limited too:

  • How states have attempted to secure the release of their citizens and the strengths and differences of these approaches.
  • Why Iran pursues the tactic of hostage diplomacy and whether it has other more effective means of securing its foreign policy positions.
  • What more governments, international institutions and civil society can do to secure the release of dual and foreign nationals.

The International Observatory of Human Rights invites you to join us for what is assured to be a stimulating and important discussion on the issue of hostage diplomacy.


Xiyue Wang

Xiyue Wang is a Chinese-American citizen who was arbitrarily detained by the Iranian regime between 2016 and 2019. The Iranian judiciary sentenced the Princeton Academic to ten years in prison on charges of espionage . The United States government managed to secure the release of Xiyue as part of a prisoner swap between the two countries, with Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani going the other way.

Ana Diamond

Ana Diamond travelled to Iran in August 2014 as a dual citizen of Iranian-Finnish-British (she revoked her Iranian citizenship in 2018). At the age of just 19 Ana was accused of espionage and was later formally arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in 2016. Her detention is widely accepted to be part of a long-running diplomatic dispute between Iran and the United Kingdom over an outstanding £400m payment.

At the time Ana was the youngest female inmate in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison and is a rare survivor of the death penalty. Originally released on bail in 2016, all charges were dropped a year later. Ana is now a political commentator in the UK and a human rights activist.

Patrick Wintour

Patrick Wintour is the diplomatic editor of The Guardian and was formerly the newspaper’s chief political editor for two periods, from 1988 to 1996, and 2000 to 2006.

An expert on British diplomacy Patrick provides the panel with valuable insight into the wider diplomatic priorities that guide the interactions between the UK and Iran. Over the past few years Patrick has extensively covered Iran’s use of hostage diplomacy, including the high profile case of British-Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

You can RSVP to the “Iran Hostage Diplomacy : What next?” webinar via the link below:

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