Mon, 14 March 2022
As the war in Ukraine drags on, global alliances are shifting, sometimes in surprising ways. A delegation from the White House recently made a secret trip to Caracas to discuss the possibility of easing sanctions on Venezuelan oil just as the Biden administration is planning to ban Russian oil imports. A few days later, Venezuela freed two jailed Americans in an apparent goodwill gesture. One of the freed prisoners was among six Citgo oil executives arrested in 2017 and convicted on charges the U.S. government says were fabricated. Five of the men still remain in prison. Venezuela is not alone in its use of hostage diplomacy. Russia recently announced the arrest of WNBA player Brittney Griner. She is one of at least three Americans held unjustly by Russian authorities. On this week’s episode, we meet the State Department’s lead hostage negotiator, an innocent man who was held hostage for 544 days in an Iranian prison and his brother who led the campaign to free him. Their conversation was recorded in front of a live audience at the World Affairs Center in San Francisco.
Ambassador Roger Carstens, Special Envoy to Hostage Affairs at the US Department of State
Ali Rezaian, consultant and leader of the “Free Jason and Yegi” campaign
Philip Yun, President and CEO of World Affairs
Lily Jamali, senior reporter at American Public Media’s Marketplace