Biden signs executive order to stem wrongful detentions

by | Jul 19, 2022 | World

US President Joe Biden has signed an executive order that aims “to deter and disrupt hostage-taking and wrongful detentions” of Americans abroad, opening the way for sanctions and other deterrence measures to be imposed.The White House said on Tuesday that the order will allow relevant United States government agencies to impose financial sanctions on those directly or indirectly involved in hostage-taking or wrongful detentions.
It also directed government departments to bolster engagement and share relevant information with families about the status of their loved ones and US efforts to secure their release or return.
“Hostage-taking and the wrongful detention of United States nationals are heinous acts that undermine the rule of law,” Biden said in a separate statement to Congress, announcing the executive order had been signed.
“I have determined that hostage-taking and the wrongful detention of United States nationals abroad constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”
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The move came weeks after US basketball star Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia on drug possession charges that carry a 10-year-maximum prison sentence, appealed directly to Biden to do everything in his power to bring her home.
The Biden administration has said Griner’s case remains a priority and top officials have said they believe the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist is being wrongfully detained.
The US does not provide an official figure for how many of its citizens are detained abroad.
But the James W Foley Legacy Foundation, named after an American journalist abducted and killed in Syria, says that more than 60 US citizens are wrongfully detained in about 18 countries, including Iran, Russia, Venezuela and China.
Biden is “committed to getting all these cases resolved and … at the same time, start to bring up a deterrence strategy that can raise the cost of hostage-taking and wrongful detention”, a senior administration official said in a call with rep …

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