WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will make clear that families of Americans held by terror groups will not be prosecuted if they pay ransoms, part of a broad review of U.S. hostage policy that will be released Wednesday.
President Barack Obama ordered the review after the deaths of Americans held hostage by Islamic State militants. The families of some of those killed complained about their dealings with the Obama administration, saying they were threatened with criminal prosecution if they pursued paying ransom in exchange for their loved ones’ release.
Two people familiar with the review said there will be no formal change to the law, which explicitly bars providing money to terror organizations. However, the administration will make clear that the Justice Department has never prosecuted anyone for paying ransom and that that will continue to be the case.
The policy clarification was first reported by Foreign Policy magazine. People familiar with the review confirmed the details Tuesday on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to do so publicly ahead of Wednesday’s release.
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