Washington: It is the American policy not to provide ransoms to terrorists to secure the release of hostages, even American hostages, the White House has said.
It also ruled out that any ransom was paid to seek releaseof American freelance journalist, Peter Theo Curtis, who was held captive for nearly two years by militants in Syria.
“It is the policy of the United States government not to provide ransoms to terrorists to secure the release of hostages, even American hostages. This is a policy that the United States has pursued for a long time and has been in place for a long time,” White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters.
“That policy is in place because providing ransoms to terrorist organisations only gives those terrorist organisations access to more funds and resources. It also makes American citizens more likely targets of terrorist organisations, knowing that they could eventually hold them for ransom,” he said.
In response to a question on release of Curtis, he said, This is a policy that we have pursued, and that not only do we not pay ransoms, we tell other organisations and countries not to pay ransoms for American citizens for precisely those reasons.”
Pointing out that the Curtis family said the Qatari government told them that they did not pay a ransom for the American writer, he said the United States government certainly did not ask the Qataris to pay a ransom.
“In fact, we asked the Qataris, consistent with our longstanding policy, to not pay a ransom for Curtis. That, all said, we are grateful in knowing that Curtis is coming home after so much time held in captivity in Syria. And on behalf of the American people, we join Curtis’s family and his loved ones in welcoming his freedom,” he said.
“The United States made clear, and it is clear to the Qatari government, that we did not want them to pay a ransom.
In fact, we encouraged them not to pay a ransom. But in terms of trying to get in the head of these individuals who were holding captive an American citizen is just not something I’m in a position to do,” Earnest said.
Curtis was handed over to the UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights on August 24.
“After receiving a medical checkup, Curtis was handed over to US Government personnel who then brought him to Tel Aviv,” State Department Spokesperson, Jen Psaki, told reporters.
“We understand his release follows a direct request from the Curtis family itself to the Government of Qatar for its assistance,” she said.
Psaki reiterated that the US does not make concessions to terrorist organisations, including paying ransom.
“We also don’t support any third party paying ransom and did not do so in this case. We’re unequivocal in our opposition to paying ransom to terrorists. So with that, I don’t know if I could be more clear than that,” she said.