Obama will not change policy against paying ransom for hostages

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 18, 2014 2:59 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, who has ordered a comprehensive review of U.S. policy governing efforts to free American hostages, still opposes the payment of ransoms, the White House said on Tuesday.

Obama ordered the review last summer in light of the increasing number of U.S. citizens taken hostage by the Islamic State and other militant groups. In recent months Islamic State militants have beheaded three Americans.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that Obama felt a review was warranted by the increased number of kidnappings of Americans.

"The one thing that I do want to make clear, though, is, this review does not include a reconsideration about longstanding policy of the United States government that ransoms should not be paid to terrorist organizations that are holding hostages," Earnest said.

He said Obama believes that paying ransoms could lead to trouble over the long term.

"We don't want to put other American citizens at even greater risk when they're around the globe. And that, knowing that terrorist organizations can extract a ransom from the United States, if they take a hostage only puts American citizens at greater risk," he said.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)