The parents of murdered journalist Steven Sotloff were told by a White House counterterrorism official at a meeting last May that they could face criminal prosecution if they paid ransom to try to free their son, a spokesman for the family said.
The family felt completely and utterly helpless when they heard this,” said Barak Barfi, a friend of Sotloff who is serving as a spokesman for his family. “The Sotloffs felt there was nothing they could do to get Steve out.”
The journalist’s father, Art, was “shaking” after the meeting with the official, who works for the National Security Council, Barfi said. The families of three other hostages being held by the militant group Islamic State were also at the White House meeting.
The Sotloff family issued their statement after Diane Foley, the mother of murdered journalist James Foley, told ABC News that her family took statements by the White House counterterrorism official about legal bars to paying ransom as a “threat, and it was appalling. … We were horrified he would say that. He just told us we would be prosecuted.”
The Sotloffs “heard the same thing the Foleys did,” Barfi said in his statement to Yahoo News.
Addressing the issue at a White House press briefing today, press secretary Josh Earnest declined to discuss conversations that administration officials had with the families
The murders of Foley and Sotloff, both of whom were beheaded by IS, were called “acts of barbarism” by Obama in his speech Wednesday night announcing a military campaign to destroy the terrorist organization.
Sources close to the families say that at the time of the White House meeting the Sotloffs and Foleys — after receiving direct threats from IS — were exploring lining up donors who would help pay multimillion-dollar ransoms to free their sons. But after the meeting those efforts collapsed, one source said, because of concerns that “donors could expose themselves to prosecution.”
Although European hostages have been freed through ransom payments that have run into the millions of dollars, the Obama administration will not, even though Obama agreed to trade 5 of the world most deadly terrorist for an American Bowe Bergdahl earlier this year.
Obama turns over 5 top terrorist leaders for one degenerate traitor, but does absolutely nothing substantive to save 2 innocent American journalists. We are a nation run by buffoons and cowards.
When the Japanese started playing Kamikaze as if it is a bravery to kill and die, the US response was devastating and these Kamikaze caused the death and misery of hundreds of thousands of their compatriots. When the Chechens beheaded Russian soldiers, the Russian army flattened their cities killing tens of thousands of Chechens.