I came across Nazanin for the first time tonight, a beautiful, young British-Iranian wife and mother from London sitting in Ivan prison. I do not for a minute believe finding Nazanin to be an accident. I tasked myself tonight with my first blog post to launch TruthSetter’s mission into the blogosphere. Why is TruthSetter here? Why do we exist? Nazanin. We exist for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. I sat down to write doing a quick google search of the most obvious first amendment antithesis entering the search terms “Iranian Women Journalists”. A picture of this beautiful woman with a magnanimous smile, her infant daughter Gabrielle and their story filled my screen. That smile telling me we could easily be friends if given the chance. My search netted Nazanin’s husband’s interview dated today given in New York with the Center for Human Rights in Iran where he campaigned for his wife before the UN General Assembly. TruthSetter exists for Nazanin’s voice and all the voices like hers who have been silenced in oppressive regions and corners of the world where freedom of press is a luxury out of reach. For those marginalized people groups who live every day without a voice, voices stripped from them by those who are in power, TruthSetter exists. In a world of misinformation and fact manipulation, TruthSetter gives voice to those who cannot speak otherwise. For those fortunate, TruthSetter affords the tangible means to protect and celebrate the voices we do have in our cherished democratic societies.
TruthSetter exists to give freedom of the press to all people. In America where freedom is accustomed this will mean something entirely different than to a woman sitting in a jailcell in Ivan prison for visiting family in Tehran showing off her beautiful baby to her parents, proud of her Iranian heritage. Nazanin’s story began with the Iranian Nuclear Deal giving her false impressions Iran, the country she grew up in, the country she loved from childhood, finally was safe once again. Safe to do what all women across the world want to do after giving birth to a precious child – go on holiday to show that child off to the ones she loves most – her family. When the Revolutionary Guard’s Intelligence Organization stripped Nazanin’s newly weaned 22-month-old baby girl from her arms while awaiting to board a flight home to her beloved husband in Britain, she learned safe Iran was a façade, a dangerous mirage. Nazanin’s alleged crime, for which she could not speak at her own trial, nor receive counsel for 130 days, and for which she has spent the last 18 months in prison, some of those in solitary confinement, was allegedly “working against national interests”. The assumption because the charges have never been stated outright are due to a free woman, wife and mother living in London and on travel to her homeland had spent time working for the charity arm of Thomson Reuters Foundation, this charity work posing a “national security threat”.
Instead of returning to her expectant husband in the UK after her holiday visiting her parents and showing them the baby in person that made them grandparents, Nazanin was taken to Ivan prison and her daughter confiscated. The same prison pastor Saeed Abedini escaped as part of the Iranian Nuclear Deal that made Nazanin feel so safe, her perceived security proven false. Her husband shared, “Many Iranians want to just be normal, to go visit their family, and be proud of Iran, of all it is and all it could be. And she was sort of hopeful about the nuclear deal, thinking everyone can finally see what a great country Iran is.” Instead, Nazanin is left to sadly wonder, “how can you pick me out and create all these lies.”
In America, TruthSetter’s mission for freedom of the press for all people means fighting deliberate misinformation propagated by foreign entities. Most notorious, Russia. Breaking tonight, Russia purchased $100,000 in Facebook ads and created innumerable fake twitter accounts during the election to fan racial fury and create dissension within our own democratic borders in an attempt to play electoral espionage. Russia studied our culture wars and played our politics against us using our own social media tools as tactile weapons, bots as their agents. Less than a decade ago, this scenario could have been a futuristic, blow your mind, Tom Clancy New York Times best-selling thriller. In America, with TruthSetter, “freedom of the press for all people” can now mean collaborating in a real-time, online, open, and diverse community holding journalists and the media companies they work for accountable to Poynter’s journalistic common code of ethics. TruthSetter is the only fully crowd-sourced platform giving real Americans a true voice and an effectual method to combat fake news, whether Russian bought or via sinister agitators within our news and social media constructs who are firmly invested in creating and spreading fake news to bolster ratings equating to dollars. TruthSetter allows individuals to fully utilize their first amendment rights to highlight and vote on the misinformation propagating our newsfeeds and social media worlds, collaborating together to push Truth forward. No matter your race, no matter your background, no matter your beliefs, be a TruthSetter and defend this freedom with every fiber of your being, and while doing so remember Nazanin. Her husband shares, “… campaigning has been good for me. It has given me a way of telling her story, feeling like I’m doing something. I am sure campaigning is the best way to get her home. Campaigning is the only way we can say this is wrong, things have to change. Out of respect for Iran, I’m telling you [Iran], this is wrong. I’m not bluffing, I’m not lying and Nazanin should be immediately released.” Read Nazanin’s full story and her husband’s interview here.
Technology is close to my husband’s heart and giving a voice to those without one is close to mine. He advises on everything technical, and I run the vision for the impact I want TruthSetter to have in the world. The combination makes for the perfect marriage. Visit us and become a TruthSetter today.