Amidst an immensely challenging environment for independent journalism around the world, a new threat has emerged. Increasingly international journalists are being arrested and jailed on false charges, what the US government calls “unlawful detentions” but are tantamount to state hostage taking. Strategies for evaluating the risk, freeing those in captivity, and deterring future hostage taking have consumed journalists, press freedom advocates, policy makers, and political leaders in recent years.

Moderated by Joel Simon, founding director of the Journalism Protection Initiative at the Craig Newmark Journalism School at CUNY and a leading expert of kidnaping and hostage taking, this panel will cover a range of issues that journalists need to know before undertaking reporting in authoritarian countries that are increasingly resorting to the tactic. Washington Post columnist Jason Rezaian, who has written and spoken widely on the topic and was himself unlawfully detained for 544 days in Iran, will be joined by Masha Gessen, New Yorker writer, author and expert of both Russia and the rise of global authoritarianism. They will talk about recent cases, including WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich and Alsu Kurmasheva, the RFE/RL correspondent detained in October while on a home visit to Russia.