International Alliance against State Kidnapping and Hostage-Taking





The youngest student-victim in the public records of state-sponsored kidnapping and hostage-taking, as well as in the history of “Hostage Diplomacy

Everything You Need to Know About HAlliance’s Co-Founder

Ana Diamond is our charitable organisation “International Alliance Against State Kidnapping and Hostage-Taking” commonly referred to simply as HAlliance’s co-founder.

She is also an Alistair Horne Visiting Fellow (2024-2025 - St. Antony's College, University of Oxford), a

Clarendon Scholar (2021-2023 - Balliol College, University of Oxford) and finally a political commentator.

She rose to public eye following a false lawsuit brought against her by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s IRGC in 2014 during which she was wrongly accused of espionage for the United Kingdom. Her arrest, similar to the arrest of numerous other dual-nationals, has been linked to the long-standing dispute of estimated £400m between Iran and United Kingdom. In recent years, Iran's behaviour and violation of human rights have been described as hostage diplomacy.

Anna Diamond was born in Sir Uplands, largest mountainous body of the border-city of Romea (Urmia) , a hamlet between former Persian and Ottoman Empires. Her family was one of the intelligent, multiracial, but also controversial households of West Azerbaijan County, Iran, known for their great humanitarian values and at the same time comparative simplicity of their lives.

On 21st August 1805, Anna’s 5th paternal great-grandparents, Sir John White (Aabba) and Lady Elisabeth Hobart, an English Nobel family, secured the private purchase of 500,000 acres of the Haidarloo Highlands from Persian crown prince Abbas Mirza, while the Qajarian commander of Iran’s army was marching into battle at the Sultanate of Shoragel.

The area was renamed after the land was purchased by Aabba’s household, who built a place of worship known as “Ojag-e Aabba” (Aabba's Henge/Lord-House of Sir John) on the outskirts of Janvelslou/private village of John and Elis, and a clinic (Westminster Infirmary) at the foothill of Sir John's Highland. Later, a large part of Sir’s Henge was demolished, but his wife’s adjacent graveroom was converted into Kelisay-e Hazrat-e Maryam (St Mary’s Church).

There is still a remaining of mentioned sacred site which is now part of John and Elisabeth’s village (Janvelslou). Sir John and Lady Elisabeth Aabba is widely known to have historically offered safety to various displaced and persecuted peoples of faith but also to elderly, infirm, and sick. It is there that many British-American missionaries and their children and wives are buried, such as Joseph Plumb Cochran (1855–1905).

Ana later moved to Finland with her parents when she was still a toddler and went to Ressu International Baccalaureate School in Helsinki. She studied Film and Media Studies and Theology at King's College London.

In the summer of 2014, Ana Diamond was a teenage student at King's College London and the Associate of King’s College (AKC) when she obtained a temporary Iranian passport in order to make an emergency trip to Iran and to visit her mother. Prior to travelling to Iran, Diamond took part in the University of California Education Abroad Program while still a student. Shortly after, she took on a filming project made possible in Jerusalem to document the life in the Old City. This, in addition to her involvement with the Conservatives when she was a teen, were used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp to justify her initial kidnap and detention.

She was formally kidnapped and for the next eight months, she was subjected to extensive interrogations while held in solitary confinement in inside the IRGC’s maximum-security 2-Alef complex in Evin Prison, Tehran, becoming the youngest student-victim in the public records of state-sponsored kidnapping and hostage-taking, as well as in the history of “Hostage Diplomacy”. the internationally condemned practice of taking hostages for political and military purposes.

Diamond was briefly transferred to the public ward, along with Narges Mohammadi an Iranian human rights activist and Nobel laureate. At the time, Diamond was the youngest female inmate in Evin prison and one of the few dual-nationals to experience a mock execution. Diamond has described her treatment as "demeaning" and as "torture", and her case has been reported to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and United Nations Human Rights Council.

Unlike most political and national security prisoners, Diamond was tried at the Tehran’s Special Clerical Court due to her family's high profile clerical background. Her primary prosecutor was Ebrahim Raisi, then-prosecutor-general of country’s Special Clerical Courts, who later became the eighth president of Iran since 2021 until his death in a helicopter crash in 2024.

In August 2016, Diamond was released on bail pending trial in excess of what would have been £130,000 at the time. She was placed under house arrest while her father was still imprisoned.

Her family members were finally released one-by-one after her father and her late-grandfather paid about £5.5mn to the IRGC in facilitating their freedom. At the time, the IRGC run Iranian newspaper Keyhan had falsely stated that their freedom was linked to the then-Foreign Secretary of the UK, following his visit to Iran in late 2017 even though subsequent the first official visit to Iran by Boris Johnson, charges against Diamondd were dropped.

Since her return to the UK, Diamond has been open about the psychological trauma inflicted on her and the physical harm she suffered during her detention, including arrhythmia. She considers herself a torture survivor.

When speaking with the i newspaper, she said: The realisation that you might be taken and killed at any minute is very sobering, and in a way has been a pivotal factor in how I’ve been able to bounce forward [...] I have this renewed sense of ‘I need to make the most of my life’ because I almost lost it.

Diamond is a mentee of Sir Terence Hardy Waite KCMG CBE, an envoy for the Church of England and a former hostage negotiator. Waite was himself a hostage in Lebanon for five years, and helped Diamond to recover from her ordeal following her release.

She has stated that Waite played a significant role in her recovery and helped her regain her confidence “the most important thing he taught me was that I should try to use this time of imprisonment creatively and look at it as something that strengthens my character”.

In 25th September 2020, she set up the "International Alliance Against State Kidnapping and Hostage-Taking" (HAlliance). It was Ana Diamond’s personal continuation of the “Families Allied Against State Hostage Taking” campaign, launched on the side-lines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York on 24th September 2019. The original campaign was initiated by some ex-hostages and relatives of a number of foreigners and dual-nationals being held in Iranian jails, including Ana Diamond. At that time, she had resigned from her job at the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and was very unwell, unable to participate physically in that campaign. Since her release in 2018, she has been repeatedly admitted for long stays in various British and Iranian hospitals for the treatment of her complex PTSD-related heart dysfunction and immune system ailment.

The Families Alliance Against State Hostage Taking was originally a campaign to raise awareness about state hostage taking and to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran to release a number of civilian foreign and dual nationals arrested by various state actors to gain leverage over the UK and US.

Ana Diamond managed the development of the campaign throughout periods of receiving therapeutic rehabilitation at St Thomas' Hospital, a well-known medical education site of King's College London (KCL), where she was still trying to finish her BA degree. Ana was a teenage student at King's College London and the Associate of King’s College (AKC) when the Iranian IRGC kidnapped her, making her the youngest student-victim in the public records of state-sponsored kidnapping and hostage-taking, as well as in the history of “Hostage Diplomacy” the internationally condemned practice of taking hostages for political and military purposes.

Service delays meant that Ana Diamond’s newly-launched “HAlliance” did not reach the public until Christmas 2023, as its co-founder was in severe health trouble, suffering from medically unexplained various physical and psychological symptoms of also Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM).

In 2021, Diamond was accepted to study at Balliol College, Oxford with a scholarship. She was also a 2021 finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship from the Global category.

In a feature on The Oxford Student, she was quoted describing her time at Oxford as, "Oxford helped me realise that even if you cannot achieve full justice, you can try to prevent injustice – with your work, words, advocacy, and presence. We must make our existence in this world worthwhile, and what better place to start that journey than at university."

In an interview with Emma Barnett of the BBC Woman's Hour, Diamond spoke about her experience by quoting the French novelist André Malraux: "None of us walk through hell and come back empty handed."

Between 2018-2023 she has worked closely with Freedom from Torture and Hostage UK in understanding the trauma of returning hostages and their rights to demand enforceable reparation, including restitution, compensation, and rehabilitation.

Since the launch of the HAlliance, Diamond has collaborated on a documentary with BBC Panorama to highlight that the arrest of dual and foreign nationals in Iran is often associated with the aim of extracting money, facilitating prisoner exchanges, lifting of sanctions, repayment of arms debts or other concessions.

Diamond was one of the first individuals to speak out on the inhumane conditions surrounding the arrest of both Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Following a lengthy but successful campaign for Dr Moore-Gilbert's release, Diamond gave an interview to the Guardian and said that “The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps have been practising and perfecting their state hostage-taking for many decades now," and that she is advocating for a "legal path to hold Iran accountable for their atrocious violations of human rights and the deliberate and planned acts of kidnapping and torture of foreign nationals."

In July 2020, the UK government announced the launch of new 'Magnitsky'-style sanctions regime to target those who have perpetuated human rights violations and abuses around the world. The HAlliance has contributed to the passage of Magnitsky legislation in the UK, designed to provide sanctions against individuals who have committed human rights violations. The laws are named in honour of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian tax advisor whose exposure of corruption and misconduct in Russia led to his arrest and death in police custody.

Sir Terence Hardy Waite KCMG CBE:

… I’m not full of altruism. I think when you do things for other people, consciously or unconsciously you’re doing something for yourself. And I suppose that was so, in my case when I went on that last visit in Beirut, yes, I knew very well that it was an extremely dangerous situation. When the offer was made to me to go and see someone who was ill and about to die, or so I was told, I decided to go. And the reason for that decision was, I said to myself, if that man dies and I haven’t got the courage of my own conviction to go and see him, and he dies, I’m going to have to life with my conscience for the rest of my life. And so I went back and in fact was captured.

Initially I was put in an underground cell. It was beneath a carpark, the carpark was beneath, as I believe, a large apartment building. And this was an underground cell, of which there were two or three cells down there. They were tiled. There was a generator which was providing electricity, independent of the building above. They had a primitive toilet, and the cell was so small I could hardly stand up in it. But it had obviously clearly been purpose-built, and there were other prisoners down there.

Whom they were I don’t know. I did ask, eventually, other Western hostages if they’d been kept there, but they hadn’t, in that particular place. So I had no idea who the people were next door. I got one visit a day to the bathroom, such as it was, a very primitive structure. And no furniture in this cell. I mean, my blood ran cold when I saw what it was because I recognised that these cells had been tiled in order to be cleaned up easily, after people had been knocked around. And of course I wondered what my future was, at that point…