Under current U.S. law it is illegal to pay ransoms demanded by international hostage-takers. The act of paying a ransom is punishable by jail-time but this may be about to change.
The Obama administration is considering changing a longstanding U.S. policy prohibiting families of hostages held overseas from making ransom payments to abductors, according to a television report aired Sunday.
“Under recommendations contained in an ongoing White House review of US hostage policy, 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,” according to a report aired on ABC’s program 'This Week'.
The report cited three senior U.S. policy officials who were informaed of the policy review. No timeline was given for when a decision might be made.
The White House would not comment when asked about the report.
Last year, U.S. military forces tried unsuccessfully to rescue American journalist James Foley and other hostages thought to be held in eastern Syria. They later found out that they had been moved. Foley was then executed by his Islamic State captors.
The ABC report said the policy change was under review after Foley’s parents claimed a White House official threatened them with prosecution if they tried to make a ransom payment.
The news was welcomed by families of those kidnapped by international terrorists.