In New Hostage Policy, U.S. Will Not Prosecute Families for Paying Ransom
"After a six-month review that included discussions with families of people held overseas, the White House said the government will continue its longstanding policy of not making concessions to hostage-takers.
But it will no longer threaten families who decide to pay ransoms. The government may communicate with hostage-takers and intermediaries, and it may help families who are trying to pay ransom, the White House said."
Obama Announces New Hostage Response, but No U.S. Ransoms
"The president reasserted the main plank of U.S. policy that, unlike some allies, the government would not make concessions or pay ransom to hostage takers, saying this would enrich the militants and encourage further abductions.
However, he set out a more cooperative policy in which the government would work with the families, and said a special presidential envoy would be appointed to coordinate the efforts of law enforcement and diplomats.
Government officials would now be allowed to communicate and negotiate with hostage takers.
The new approach was drawn up over six months after complaints by families that their initiatives to free relatives had been discouraged and sometimes blocked by officials who threatened legal action if they raised a ransom privately.
He said - as did a separate statement from the Justice Department - that such threats should never happen again, and that no American had been prosecuted for paying a ransom.
The new approach, set out in a presidential directive, allowed "communication with hostage takers by our government, the families of hostages or third parties who help these families," Obama said."
Kidnapped Missionary Was Freed as U.S. Tested Hostage Policy Shift - Family
"The family of a U.S missionary kidnapped in Nigeria earlier this year said on Thursday it paid a ransom to secure her release in March while receiving around-the-clock guidance from federal agents under a newly changed hostage-response policy."