The Slatest

U.S. Officials Threatened James Foley’s Parents With Prosecution Over Ransom

Diane Foley, mother of James Foley, pauses for a moment during an interview at her home on Aug. 24, 2014.

Photo by DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images

Although James Foley’s mother said she wasn’t surprised that the government would want to prevent her family from raising money for a ransom to free her son, she was shocked at how it was handled and how the message was delivered, Diane Foley told ABC News.

“I was surprised there was so little compassion. … It just made me realize that these people talking to us had no idea what it was like to be the family of someone abducted… I’m sure [the U.S. official] didn’t mean it the way he said it, but we were between a rock and a hard place. We were told we could do nothing… meanwhile our son was being beaten and tortured every day.”

The warnings came primarily from “a highly decorated military officer serving on the White House’s National Security Council staff.” Current and former officials confirmed the threats to ABC News, with one saying that it “was an utterly idiotic thing to do.”

Earlier the mother of the journalist who was beheaded by ISIS told CNN that she was “embarrassed and appalled” by how U.S. officials handled her son’s kidnapping. “I think our efforts to get Jim freed were an annoyance,” Diane Foley said. “Jim was killed in the most horrific way. He was sacrificed because of just a lack of coordination, lack of communication, lack of prioritization.”

The family learned about Foley’s death from “one journalist calling us and crying on the phone,” Diane Foley told Fox News. Foley’s brother, Michael Foley, had earlier told Fox News that government officials “were actually an impedance” to getting the journalist released. “I was specifically threatened by the Department of State about raising funds towards ransom demands for my brother,” he said. “We were smart enough to look past it but it slowed us down. We lost a lot of time.”