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Freelance journalist based in Istanbul. Keeping an eye on Turkish politics and development.
Jason Rezaian, former Teheran bureau chief of The Washington Post, just released his book Prisoner. A detailed account of the 544 days he spent in an Iranian prison, held hostage by the Iranian regime and used as leverage during the nuclear negotiations with the Obama administration. A story about what he had to endure – solitary confinement, a sham trial and, ultimately, diplomacy – but also a story about his family, who fought tirelessly for his freedom.
In this episode of Pod Save The World, Tommy Vietor and Ben Rhodes talk to Rezaian about his experience, adding an interesting point of view. At the time, Rhodes was a staff member of the Obama administration, and as such he took part in the negotiations that ended with Rezaian's release.
How did it feel for Rezaian to be used in these negotiations? What were the negotiations like from Rhodes' point of view? And how does Rezaian think the US should be dealing with Iran now?
At the negotiation table, Rhodes and others were at a crossroad. If they brought Rezaian into the nuclear negotiation and the deal failed, his freedom would be out of the question. That was the dilemma for the policymakers.
Meanwhile, in an Iranian prison, Rezaian was told by his interrogator that negotiations were going on to free him. But, in the absence of news, he started to think that he would never get out.
Rezaian's story is engaging and exciting – how he managed to keep his sanity, the relationship with his family during that time and how they dealt with everything that happened later –, but this exchange between the prisoner and one of the main negotiators for his release adds something you would rarely find somewhere else.