Relatives of more than two dozen American hostages and wrongful detainees held overseas told President Joe Biden in a letter on Monday that they questioned his administration’s commitment to bringing their loved ones home.
In the letter obtained by The Associated Press, the family members said the administration seemed to be getting “bogged down in burdensome processes or policy debates that keep our loved ones from coming home and keep us uninformed of what you can and cannot do to help us.”
“We need to be shown that the promises of your administration to prioritize the return of our family members are not empty. Now is the time for action. Now we need you to bring our fellow Americans home.”
The letter reflects growing concerns that the Biden administration’s foreign policy agenda does not prioritize the release of hostages, and that legal and political actions have complicated, rather than advanced, efforts to get captives released.
According to the letter, in some cases, the families feel as if they’re in a “worse” situation now than eight months ago.
The U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan without bringing home Mark Frerichs, an American contractor abducted there in early 2020, and six American oil executives under house arrest in Venezuela. The oil executives were ordered back to jail this month following the extradition to the U.S. on corruption charges of a businessman who prosecutors say was a major conduit for corruption by President Nicolás Maduro’s inner circle.
The Biden team has been short on high-profile detainees and hostages released so far.
The families noted in the letter that they were optimistic following a February call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Since then, though, they say they have been unable to meet with Biden or with his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, “which leads us to believe that your administration is not prioritizing negotiations and other methods to secure their release.
“When we do meet with other officials we feel we are being kept in the dark about what the U.S. government intends to do to free our loved ones,” the letter said.
The White House had no immediate comment Monday.
The letter was signed by family members of 26 American hostages and detainees held in countries across the world.
That includes the mother of Trevor Reed, a Marine imprisoned in Moscow on charges of assaulting a police officer in Russia; the sister of Frerichs, and the wife of Jeffrey Woodke, an aid worker taken from his home in Niger in 2016.
Others who signed include the families of nine Americans jailed in Venezuela, who joined together more than a week ago in a separate critical letter of the White House approach to their cases.
The lack of urgency is especially troubling to the family of José Pereira, the former president of Houston-based CITGO, a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company.
Over the weekend, Pereira was rushed from jail to a private clinic in Caracas for emergency treatment for a cardiac condition that his family says has not received medical treatment since his detention four years ago.
John Pereira says that although the Biden administration is not to blame for his father’s arrest, he expected more from Biden.
“Our feeling is that they do more,” said Pereira, who along with the families of eight other American detainees in Caracas sent their own letter to Biden a week ago urging U.S. officials to sit down and talk directly with Maduro’s government.
“This goes beyond politics. It’s a humanitarian issue. They have to sit down to talk.”
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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