Blinken speaks to families of American hostages and illegal detainees

Blinken speaks to families of American hostages and illegal detainees

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.

“He made my heart sing. I felt as though a full weight had been lifted off my shoulder. I felt like I heard. I felt interested. It was cool. It was great to feel this way,” said Paula Reed, her son Trevor Reed Imprisoned in Russia. “I was crying when we got out (the call), it was so touching.”
according to Foley FoundationThere are at least 43 publicly known hostage or detainee cases in 11 countries, including Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Venezuela, Russia, Egypt, Turkey, Rwanda, and Saudi Arabia.

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.

Maryam Kamalmaz told CNN: “Minister Blinken was patient and courteous to answer all our questions and concerns with genuine interest in each individual case. We are really grateful.” her dad, Then CamlanA humanitarian worker who disappeared in Syria in 2017.
Gabriela Zambrano Hill, whose father and uncle, Allerio Jose Zambrano and Jose Luis Zambrano, were arrested in Venezuela as part of the so-called Will weather 6He described the meeting as “very encouraging” in an interview with CNN that “Secretary Blinken made it very clear that the call for the release of the American hostages is a priority for this administration.”

“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. . “

Elizabeth Whelan – sister Paul Whelan Which has been held in Russia for more than two years – Blinkin said he promised to be “very clear and transparent with the families about what was happening, and what was not going to happen, so that we understand exactly our position on the different cases.”

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.

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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.”

“SecBlinken emphasized transparency in our partnership with families of American hostages and illegal detainees, and I am grateful for their willingness to place their faith in us and their trust in us,” he wrote on Twitter.

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.

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