Chris Lange, FISM News
The families of 26 American hostages and wrongful detainees held overseas are pleading with the Biden administration to take prompt action to return their loved ones to U.S. soil.
The plea was made in a joint letter directly addressed to President Biden and representing the families of U.S. citizens held in China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Mali, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Venezuela.
“Every day we wonder how much longer our loved ones must endure their captivity, not knowing when they will return home, and not being able to fully understand the efforts the United States government is undertaking to secure their freedom,” the group wrote.
The families expressed frustration at the apparent lack of urgency from the White House concerning the plight of their captive family members and their inability to gain an audience with the administration. “We have not been able to meet with you or even with your National Security Advisor to discuss our loved ones’ captivity, which leads us to believe that your administration is not prioritizing negotiations and other methods to secure their release,” they wrote, adding that they believe they are being deliberately “kept in the dark” about the government’s plans to address the crisis.
The letter concludes with a list of the names of 26 American hostages and the country in which each is being held next to the names of their family representatives.
Among the signatures is that of Charlene Cakora whose brother, Navy-veteran-turned-contractor Mark Frerichs, was captured by the Taliban in February of 2020. Cakora tearfully pleaded with the Commander in Chief to secure her brother’s release during a June 2021 interview:
President Biden, oh, please do everything you can to bring my brother home. You have the power to bring my brother home, please get my brother home safely. We are relying on you.
The joint letter goes on to describe the sense of “hope” the families experienced during a phone call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken that took place during his first week in office. Their optimism began to wane over the next several months, however, when no action was taken and no further contact was made. “[A]s of this letter, so many of us remain in the same situation, or worse, more than eight months later,” the group wrote.
The families also call the administration out on its foreign policy agenda that prioritizes political and legal actions over the freedom of U.S. citizens imprisoned overseas, a prioritization which they say has “complicated rather than advanced efforts to get captives released.”
“We need to be shown that the promises of your administration to prioritize the return of our family members are not empty,” the letter states. “Now is the time for action. Now we need you to bring our fellow Americans home.”
During a Tuesday press briefing that opened with a recap of the U.S.-ASEAN summit, followed by a solemn recognition of “Intersex Awareness Day,” Secretary Blinken was asked about the letter. While acknowledging the “incredible hardship” families of hostages endure, Blinken stopped short of offering any information on what, if any, steps the U.S. government is taking to ensure the safe return of their loved ones. “We remain in regular contact with these families, we are grateful for their partnership, we are grateful for their feedback – we continue to work to ensure we are communicating and sharing information with them in a way that is useful,” he said.