“The Runaway Princesses,” Episode 4: Hostage

After Latifa was captured, her supporters heard nothing until one day, more than a year later, her friend Tiina received a message—a handwritten letter from Latifa, smuggled out of the villa where she was being held prisoner. Latifa’s supporters managed to equip her with a secret phone, which she used to make recordings that documented her ordeal. Her family had released carefully staged photos of her, saying that she was “vulnerable” and was being cared for at home. The world was told that Latifa was mentally ill, and that she’d been kidnapped by criminals and rescued by her father. Sheikh Mohammad called her return a “rescue mission.” But in her illicit recordings, Latifa insisted that her father was in fact the one holding her hostage. She said that she was all alone and under constant guard. But she swore that she would never let him destroy her dream of freedom.

“The Runaway Princesses” is a four-episode narrative series. For the best listening experience, download the New Yorker app for iOS or Android.

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