In 2017, I was on the campaign trail when I took a call from overseas about a humanitarian worker whose Syrian middleman had information about a New Zealand nurse held hostage by Islamic State.
This wasn’t the usual call from a contact tipping me off to a story. It was a request to pass on the information to someone in New Zealand who could negotiate her freedom.
At that time, the nurse, Louisa Akavi, had been a hostage of Isis militants for a staggering four years. She had been kept prisoner with other Western hostages, including James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines and Peter Kassig, whose brutal executions had shocked the world. One of her cellmates was a young American aid worker Kayla Mueller, later reported dead by Isis.
I had been aware of Akavi’s terrible plight for more than three of those years and at that point I had interviewed a number of people – in New Zealand and overseas – about her captivity. But it was a story I knew I would not be able to publish right away, as we had made a commitment from the start that we would not put her life at risk.