Freed missionary hostage accuses U.S. of hampering release

by ian

The family of a newly freed missionary is accusing the U.S. government of abandoning him to his captors. Jeff Woodke returned home in March after spending more than six years in captivity in Niger.

In October of 2016. Woodke was working with a Christian non-profit when he was kidnapped and beaten by Islamic militants. Recently, his wife, Els Woodke, told the AP that the FBI was keeping her in the dark and even impeded her ability to help free her husband.

For instance, it wasn’t until 2021 when she learned that the captors were demanding 3 million euros as a condition for release. When she tried to raise the funds, the FBI refused to offer protection for potential donors.

Her frustration eventually boiled over in a heated phone call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. She pointed out that if Blinken had been kidnapped he’d be freed in a week, because he could afford to pay the ransom.

In the end, no ransom was paid and the details surrounding Jeff’s release are still unclear. White House National Security spokesman John Kirby simply said it was the result of “hard, grueling, deliberate work.”