New Nine-Part Podcast Series Investigates the Mysterious Death of An Iranian Dissident, a Secret Kidnapping Operation, and the Consequences of Speaking Out


(Boston, MA - June 5, 2024) - The World from GBH and PRX, public radio’s longest-running daily global news program, today announced Lethal Dissent, a nine-part podcast produced in partnership with On Spec and hosted by journalist Fariba Nawa.

The limited series, produced in collaboration with the documentary journalism podcast On Spec, investigates the price and peril that Iranian dissidents face for speaking out against their government and follows the secret operatives who seek to silence them.

The first episode of Lethal Dissent is available now. New episodes will be released weekly on Fridays. The series will be available free on-demand on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, and iHeart. The series will also air as excerpts on The World’s public radio broadcast.

A native Afghan and host of the On Spec podcast, Fariba Nawa has been covering global news for 25 years, from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, and now Turkey.

“For years, Iran has retaliated against dissidents, hunting for its citizens abroad, kidnapping and assassinating those who speak out against the government,” said Nawa. “With this podcast, we share an inside look at how Iran runs operations against dissidents abroad, and why they feel it is worth the risk.”

Lethal Dissent begins when two friends––Mehdi Hajati and Mohammad Shabani––who flee Iran to escape the regime’s crackdown on dissent. But when they arrive in Turkey, one of them dies under unusual circumstances. Nawa, based in Istanbul, works to unravel the mystery of what happened. In the process, she enters Turkey’s underworld of kidnappers-for-hire and shady government officials and takes listeners inside an Iranian operation to snatch exiles who stand up to the regime. The stakes: the right to say what you believe, and potentially, your life.

The World has a decades-long legacy of nuanced reporting on global stories with on-the-ground journalists,” said Dan Lothian, Editor-in-Chief at The World. “We’re proud to continue our commitment to international storytelling with this edge-of-your-seat podcast reported by the talented Fariba Nawa.”

Airing on 370 public radio stations across the United States and Canada and reaching an audience of 1.84 million nationwide each week, The World engages audiences with international affairs and news through human-centered journalism while consistently connecting the global to the local. The World is produced by Boston-based GBH, the leading multi-platform creator for public media in America, and PRX, one of the world’s top public radio and podcast distributors.

Lethal Dissent was made possible with support from the Pulitzer Center and Zamaneh Media. Fariba Nawa was lead reporter. The podcast was produced by Chris Harland-Dunaway. Reporting in Turkey by Beril Eski. Ozge Sebzeci was photographer and multimedia producer. Nafisa Haji was the On Spec guest host. Edited by Ibby Caputo. Research and marketing by Umar Farooq. Fact-checking by Beril Eski and John Klopotowski. Music and sound design by Uzair Ahmed. The series artwork was illustrated by Hatiye Garip.

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About GBH
GBH is the leading multi-platform creator for public media in America. As the largest producer of content for PBS and partner to NPR and PRX, GBH delivers compelling experiences, stories and information to audiences wherever they are. Headquartered in Boston, GBH has been recognized with hundreds of the nation’s premier broadcast, digital and journalism awards. Find more information at

About PRX
Celebrating more than 20 years as a nonprofit public media company, PRX works in partnership with leading independent creators, organizations, and stations to bring meaningful audio storytelling into millions of listeners’ lives. PRX is one of the world’s top podcast publishers, public radio distributors, and audio producers, serving as an engine of innovation for public media and podcasting to help shape a vibrant future for creative and journalistic audio. Shows across PRX’s portfolio of broadcast productions, podcast partners, and its Radiotopia podcast network have received recognition from the Peabody Awards, the Tribeca Festival, the International Documentary Association, the National Magazine Awards, and more, including in 2022 when Futuro Media and PRX won a Pulitzer Prize.

About On Spec
On Spec is an independently produced podcast by a team of freelance journalists from diverse backgrounds living across the globe. On Spec provides unpredictable deep dives in international news through storytelling from places like Brazil to Hong Kong to Malawi. Reporters on the ground will transport listeners with an intimate, personal look at whats going on in their communities. Each season has a distinct theme. By listening to these stories, listeners get a nuanced perspective beyond their own borders and learn how we are connected globally. Find more information at