August 9, 2013

This Call May Be Recorded... To Save Your Life

A journalist named Meron Estefanos gets a disturbing tip. She's given a phone number that supposedly belongs to a group of refugees being held hostage in the Sinai desert. She dials the number, and soon dozens of strangers are begging her to rescue them. How can she ignore them?

Meron on the phone with a torture victim. Photo courtesy of Meron Estefanos / Trabelsi Productions.


Ira tells the story of Meron Estefanos, a freelance journalist who in 2011 got a troubling tip: A group of Eritrean hostages was being tortured and held for ransom in the Sinai desert. Along with the tip was a phone number. Meron dialed it, and soon dozens of desperate hostages were begging her for help. Their pleas were impossible for Meron to ignore: Soon she was talking to the hostages regularly and devoting her life to trying to save them. Today’s show includes excerpts from the harrowing phone calls she recorded with the hostages. (7 1/2 minutes)

Act One

Reporter Yowei Shaw tells the story of the first group of 28 captives that Meron spoke to, the obstacles she faced in trying to publicize their plight and her decision to try to raise ransom money to free them. (21 minutes)