The U.S. government is denying accusations that James Foley’s family was threatened with retaliation if they paid the ransom ISIS requested to secure the American journalist’s freedom.
On September 11 James Foley’s mother, Diane, told CNN”s Anderson Cooper that she was “embarrassed and appalled” by the way the Obama administration handled “her son’s case.” She said, “I think our efforts to get Jim freed were an annoyance” to the government and securing his freedom “didn’t seem to be in the (U.S.) strategic interest, if you will.”
Diane also said U.S. officials told her family “not to go to the media.” She said the family was also told “many times” that raising ransom was “illegal” and could lead to “prosecution.”
DW.de reports that Secretary of State John Kerry was “really taken aback” by Diane’s statements. Kerry said he was “totally unaware and would not condone” threatening statements towards the Foley family from anyone in the State Department.
Kerry’s spokeswoman Marie Harf said the State Department tried “to help the family understand what our laws are about” as regards “paying ransom to terrorists.” She added: “This department would never, and did not ever intend to, nor do we think we ever did anything that we would consider threatening.”
On September 12, White House spokesman Josh Earnest responded by saying the administration had stayed “in regular touch with the Foley family” throughout the crisis leading up to James’ beheading. According to AFP, Earnest said President Obama had availed himself of “every tool at [his] disposal” to secure Foley’s freedom.
He said questions “about whether the Foleys would have been prosecuted had they attempted to pay a ransom” should be directed to the Justice Department.
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