The families said it sent a promising message that the Biden administration would make the release of their loved ones a priority, and they hoped that the US diplomat’s major investment would translate into bringing their family members home.
The video call was attended by a good number of family members and officials from hostage defense organizations, including the Foley Foundation, according to those who spoke to CNN. Blinken took more than the hour allotted to answer attendees’ questions.
“It was really a great gesture from him to take the time to talk to families like us – and soon, only one week since his confirmation,” said Christina Fadel, whose father, Tommyou Fadel, was another member of CITGO 6. . “
Some family members who spoke to CNN said they believed the call would boost the morale of their loved ones. Many said Blinken indicated that this was only an introduction and it wouldn’t be the last time he spoke to them.
In a reading of the call, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Blinken “emphasized the importance the Biden Harris administration places on transparency in our communications with families and ensuring that their family members are a top priority in our diplomatic engagements with both allies and families. Adversaries.”
The presidential special envoy for hostage affairs, Roger Carstens, who was asked to stay in the post after serving in the Trump administration, said he left the call “feeling enthusiastic, optimistic and (frankly) emotional.”
However, despite their optimism, several family members indicated that work was still available for the government as well as for personal advocacy on behalf of loved ones.
“The family is constantly involved in working to secure the release of their loved ones so that their loved ones return home,” said Whelan, who described it as stressful at times.
Others also indicated that it was a call they wished they never had to participate in.
“Not everyone really wants to be in touch with that call, really, because of what it means. It’s a pity. But at the same time, I’m sure that when everyone hangs up, every family, no matter how encouraged or not with what he said. I felt better, at least a little. “
Clarification: An earlier version of this story misrepresented Elizabeth Whelan’s description of Blinken at the meeting. She said he promised transparency in discussing their cases.