Biden administration authorizes new sanctions to target hostage-takers abroad

The Biden administration announced a new sanctions authority Tuesday to target those holding Americans hostage or wrongfully detained in an effort to bring those Americans home. But some families of American hostages, who had been made aware of the executive action prior to its announcement, were not impressed and saw the White House as a cynical ploy for them.

“In an effort to pre-manage press attention from several hostage families living in DC this week to unveil their murals, the White House called the families on a last-minute call, insisting that the families of -Keep the record and then proceed to tell every reporter in Washington the call was going to happen,” Jonathan Franks, spokesman for the Bring Our Families campaign, said in a press release Monday.

The executive order authorizes agencies to impose financial sanctions on any “terrorist organizations, criminal groups and other malicious actors” involved in hostage-taking or wrongful detention. However, no new restrictions were announced with the order.

Franks complained that the White House’s interactions with families to inform them of the executive order were “one-sided” and that “the talk and chat functions had been disabled and (the White House) did not realize that it was How can the trigger be for families to be literally silent during calls like this.”

“Instead, the White House is taking executive action to direct itself to comply with existing legislation,” Franks continued. “The families continue to await a response to their requests for a meeting with President Biden.”

The Bring Our Families Home campaign, founded to advocate for families of Americans held hostages and wrongfully detained, seeks greater engagement for White House families, including meetings with the president. Campaign launched soon after Biden administration ensured release of US citizen Trevor Reid In a prisoner swap from Russia. Mr Biden met with Reid’s parents at the White House a month before the swap, leaving other families wondering if they being treated differently,

The call was set up as a webinar, so families weren’t able to see who else was on the call or ask questions of officers, which left families frustrated, according to two sources familiar with the call.

Washington, DC: Part of the mural taken hostage overseas by Isaac Campbell of the Americans.

Photo by Neda Sharghi

The families of the hostages are in D.C. this week to unveil a new mural in Georgetown in memory of their loved ones.

A White House spokesman responded to BofH’s statement, saying, “We invite them to hear about new policy efforts being launched to help their loved ones get home. We’re looking forward to making the announcement publicly.” Wanted to share information with families before, which families deserve.”

A senior administration official admitted during a conversation with reporters that “use of sanctions may not always help secure one’s release, so we will be prudent and strategic in the use of this authority.”

The case of WNBA basketball star Brittany Griner, who is in a Russian prison, has drawn renewed attention to the plight of American hostages held abroad and pressured the Biden administration to take action to secure their release. Used to be.

Griner’s wife Cherrell Griner In an interview with CBS News, Biden called on the administration to do more.

“I won’t be silent anymore. I will find that balance, you know, harm versus harm. Help motivate our government to do everything possible because keeping quiet, they’re not moving, they’re doing nothing.” So my wife is struggling, and we have to help her,” Cherelle told CBS News on July 5. The president called Cherrell a few days later.

David Whelan, twin brother of Paul Whelan Those who have been detained in Russia since December 2018 told CBS News he thinks the executive order is a step forward.

David Whelan said, “It appears that any US government has taken the first concrete steps towards resistance to arbitrary detention and wrongful detention.”

This Wednesday marks 1,300 days of detention for Paul Whelan. His brothers keep an eye on the Russian media every morning for news about him.

According to David, the food rations in Paul’s prison are being cut due to sanctions and rising costs.

David said, “If Paul can come back and see my parents before they die, I will feel like I have done my son’s duty.”

David Whelan says his family already has a list of criminals in his brother’s case that he will give the administration to target.

“I think the families can hold the government responsible. Okay, so we have provided you these names. Now take action. Now implement the executive order.”

The administration also recently announced that it would introduce a new risk indicator, the “D” indicator, for the State Department to mark the risk of detention by a foreign government, as a warning to Americans traveling to those countries. will present as The State Department already has a “K” indicator that covers the risk of kidnapping.

Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela will all get a “D” risk indicator, according to a senior administration.

Camilla Schick contributed to this report.

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