The Slatest

New Policy Will Reportedly Allow Families of U.S. Hostages to Pay Ransom

President Obama speaks on April 23 about the Pakistan drone attack that killed hostage Warren Weinstein.

Mark Wilson/Getty

A White House-ordered review of United States policy toward foreign kidnappings will recommend that the families of victims be allowed to negotiate with and pay ransom to kidnappers, ABC reports:

“There will be absolutely zero chance of any family member of an American held hostage overseas ever facing jail themselves, or even the threat of prosecution, for trying to free their loved ones,” said one of three senior officials familiar with the hostage policy team’s ongoing review.

The study undertaken by the National Counterterrorism Center on orders from the Obama White House has involved interviewing many of those with tragic experience such as the parents of journalist James Foley, who were among several families alleging they were repeatedly threatened by administration officials with prosecution last summer for moving to raise millions in ransom demanded by ISIS and other groups in Syria.

The family of al-Qaida hostage Warren Weinstein, who is thought to have been accidentally killed by a January drone attack in Pakistan, criticized the U.S.’s handling of his case as “inconsistent and disappointing” after news of Weinstein’s death was reported on April 23.

Four Americans who were taken hostage by ISIS forces in Syria have died since August 2014; another, held by al-Qaida, was killed during an unsuccessful rescue attempt in Yemen last December. An American named Caitlan Coleman was abducted in Afghanistan in 2012 and is possibly currently being held by the Taliban; there may be other hostage situations involving Americans that are ongoing but have been kept secret.