President Obama spoke at a press conference on Wednesday unveiling new guidelines that would allow families to offer private ransom payments for relatives kidnapped overseas. The federal government will continue to refuse to negotiate and make payments while he confirmed that families will no longer face the threat of prosecution if they seek to do so privately. The new rules on dealings with hostage families result from a review Obama ordered after the killings of hostages by the Islamic State.
Obama signed into law an executive order creating a new office whose main job will be dealing with hostage families including the facilitation of communications with terrorist groups that could hypothetically be used to organize ransom payments. White House officials released a statement saying they would work with hostage families “on exploring all appropriate options to ensure the safe recovery of their loved ones,” and that the Justice Department “does not intend to add to families’ pain in such cases by suggesting that they could face criminal prosecution.”
Various families of hostage victims have criticized the Obama administration over the treatment they have received saying they have been occasionally callous and bullying as they considered possible rescues of loves ones.