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Political Prisoners

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17 Segments




Hisham Matar: A 'Return' To Libya In Search Of His Father

The writer's family was living in Egypt, in exile from Libya, when Matar's father, a prominent opponent of the Qaddafi regime, was kidnapped, taken back to Libya, and imprisoned. That was in March 1990, and it was the last time Matar saw his father. After the revolution in March 2012, Matar returned to look for his father or at least try to find out what became of him.


A Year Later, Journalist Reflects On Iranian Unrest.

Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari was arrested in Tehran a year ago while covering Iran's election protests. He explains how he endured 118 days in Iran's notorious Evin Prison, where he was repeatedly interrogated and tortured — and how he now views his homeland.


In Memoriam: Activist Poet Dennis Brutus.

During his lifetime, South African poet Dennis Brutus made incredible contributions to the fight against apartheid. Brutus died on December 26, 2009, after successfully battling segregation in athletics with global recognition. Fresh Air remembers the life and achievements of Brutus in this interview from 1986

This interview was originally broadcast on April 22, 1986.


Harry Wu Discusses his Time in "China's Gulag."

Harry Wu is a resident scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He came to the U.S. from China where he was held in a prison labor camp for 19 years. The son of a wealthy banker, Wu was a newly graduated college student when he was arrested in 1960 and denounced as an "enemy of the revolution." In the camps he endured torture, starvation, and he learned to "stop thinking in order to survive." In 1979 he was released.


A U.S-Educated Academic's Prison Time in Communist China

Wu Ningkun, author of a new personal and political memoir, A Single Tear, talks about surviving three decades of Communist rule in China. Wu was born in China, went to college in the United States, and returned to China in 1951 with hopes that the new Communist regime would benefit his country. Instead, he was labeled counter-revolutionary for teaching works by Western authors and sentenced to serve time at various labor camps and prisons. He now lives in the United States with his family.


A Russian Scientist Refused to Work in Silence

Book critic John Leonard reviews the memoirs of Andrei Sakharav, a Russian scientist and political dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. Leonard says the book is more than autobiography -- it's a guide for global citizenship.


Amnesty International Executive Director Jack Healey

Healey's organization works on behalf of prisoners of conscience around the world. His latest strategy to raise awareness for this issue is to stage rock concerts featuring politically-minded performers like Bruce Springsteen, U2, and Stevie Wonder. Healey was a Catholic priest in the 1960s, but found he had more opportunities to pursue humanitarian work in the secular world.


Surviving Soviet Imprisonment.

Natan, formerly Anatoly, Sharansky. He was jailed on trumped up treason and spying charges by the KGB and endured nine years of solitary confinement and a starvation diet before an international campaign forced his release two years ago. His account of his ordeal and the subsequent pressures of celebrity are recounted in his book Fear No Evil.


A Former Communist Remembers

While he served as a Party leader, Junius Irving Scales was arrested and convicted under the Smith Act. After his release from prison, Scales left the party after revelations over Stalin's actions in the Soviet Union. His new book, called Cause at Heart, recalls his work as a political activist.


"An American Woman" Considers Her Hungarian Past

Kati Marton's new autobiographical novel follows the life of journalist who returns to her home country. Like the book's protagonist, Marton's parents were political prisoners in Hungary. She is married to television news anchor Peter Jennings.


Orianna Fallaci On Alexandros Panagoulis.

Italian journalist and novelist Oriana Fallaci is known for her interviews with controversial political figures. Her latest work is about her former lover Alexandros Panagoulis, infamous for an attempt to assassinate a Greek dictator. Her book "A Man" covers his life and torture in prison, his enemies, and his death, which she believes to be a politically motivated murder. The book is partly fictionalized.


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