Washington ( Associated Press) — President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Tuesday aimed at increasing the flow of information to the families of Americans detained abroad and banning criminals, terrorists or government officials holding them captive.
It’s unclear whether the new order will result in bringing home more Americans jailed overseas, but senior Biden administration officials asked reporters to preview the action, saying it would increase the cost of hostage-taking and detain detainees. Consider it an important method of punishment. ,
The administrative order is being announced as the administration is facing criticism from some families Because of a perceived lack of creativity and aggression in bringing their loved ones home. It also comes as the ongoing detention of WNBA star Brittany Griner in Russia More attention has been brought to the population of Americans jailed abroad and unfairly detained by the US,
The action relies on a section of the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage Taking Accountability Act – named after a retired FBI agent who disappeared in Iran 15 years ago. And now presumed dead—which authorizes the president to impose sanctions on those who are believed to have been involved in the wrongful detention of Americans.
In this case, the officials said, it could apply to government officials or criminals or terrorists not affiliated with the government. Since sanctions may not always help facilitate the release of a jailed American – Russia’s invasion of UkraineFor example, despite a wave of economic sanctions, From Western allies – such punishment is expected to be used judiciously, according to an official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the administration.
Another element of the order will direct federal agencies to do better in sharing information and intelligence with detainees’ families about the latest status of their case and efforts to get their loved one home.
In addition, the State Department is adding a new risk indicator to its country-specific travel advisories to warn travelers about countries where the risk of detention is believed to be high.
The department already uses foreign travel risk indicators for categories including crime, health and kidnapping. Officials said the new risk indicator for detention, marked “D”, would be implemented at least initially in the following countries: Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela.
Relatives of imprisoned Americans gather in Washington, DC this week for the unveiling of a mural to honor detainees. Administration officials would not say whether Biden would be meeting the families.
Jonathan Franks, spokesman for the Bring Our Families Home campaign, a group that advocates for the interests of hostages and detainees, said in a statement that “the families continue to await a response to their requests for meetings with President Biden. “
Franks said that instead of engaging with families in a meaningful way, “the White House is taking executive action to direct itself to comply with existing legislation.”
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