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Will prisoner swaps encourage hostage-taking? Britney Griner’s release resurfaces debate

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Prisoner exchanges between the US and Russia to secure Women’s Basketball Star Britney Griner Releases It pushed the debate over whether such concessions would help bring hostage-taking back into the spotlight.

Griner, who has been held in Russia since February on drug charges, was released in a prison exchange on Thursday. International Arms Dealer Viktor Boutwas imprisoned in the United States for more than 10 years on terrorism charges stemming from an undercover operation.

“In the case of Victor Bout, this is a difficult decision,” Secretary of State Antony Brinken told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan. “At the end of the day, those of us who work for the president will make recommendations and give advice. He is someone who has to make difficult decisions. And he made tough decisions. Victor Bout Been off the playing field since 2008, which is a very good thing. And he served about half of his sentence. , glad to at least get Britney Griner home.

Although Mr. Griner’s release was widely praised, the exchange was quickly criticized by those who believed the United States was trading unfairly, especially given that the United States declared Mr. Griner’s unfair detention. .

Russia - USA - Diplomacy - Basketball - Court
Britney Griner, detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal cannabis possession, stands in her defendant’s cage before a court hearing in Khimki, a Moscow suburb, on August 4. .

EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images


“This should be a moment of deep reflection for the U.S. government to recognize that there is a serious problem with taking Americans hostage,” New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez said in a statement. said. “We must stop authoritarian and rogue regimes from using Americans abroad as bargaining chips. We need to do better at encouraging American citizens to

Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware told reporters that the more the U.S. gets involved in such exchanges, the more it “uses as leverage to secure the release of people it doesn’t want.” It puts Americans at risk of being scooped up and detained.” .

The U.S. government has long had a policy of refusing to yield to terrorists who kidnap Americans.

However, prisoner exchanges with governments involving Americans whom the United States deems unjustly detained have clouded the policy.

The RAND Corporation, which published the study in 2018, “We were unable to find convincing evidence to support the claim that a policy of no concessions provided an effective deterrent,” it said.

“While the US policy of no concessions has not deterred kidnappings, there is some evidence that political concessions and ransom payments appear to be encouraging further kidnappings and escalating demands.” the study said.

A long-standing policy of not negotiating with terrorist groups frustrated the families of hostages who hoped the US government would do more to bring their loved ones back home.President Obama New policy announced in 2015 It sought to create better coordination across the government to ensure the release of hostages and better communication with their families. He also reaffirmed the US position of not making concessions to terrorist groups.

think tank report New America In 2017, we found that refusing to make concessions to terrorist groups often hurt hostages in those countries more than the countries that made them. study It found “strong evidence that successful terrorist negotiations lead to more hostage kidnappings for the terrorists’ anticipated future rewards.”

A senior government official told reporters on Thursday that it would be “wrong” to think that exchanging prisoners in hostage situations “has become the norm”.

“I don’t think it’s wise for governments around the world to draw that line of reasoning,” the official said. So there are no alternatives left and you may have to pay a heavy price.”

Navy veteran while Greiner was free Paul Whelan remains in jail In Russia, on spy charges that the US says are false. Whelan’s brother, David, has called on the United States to be “better prepared” in case more Americans are imprisoned abroad.

“It’s clear that the U.S. government needs to be more proactive,” he said. “For Russia, this could mean breaking the law and detaining more Russians with ties to the Kremlin.”

on thursday President Joe Biden warned Americans He opposed their travel to countries where they could be unlawfully detained and said there was no guarantee the U.S. government could guarantee their release.

“Because the State Department’s travel advisories contain warnings about the dangers of undue detention by foreign governments, we urge all Americans to take precautions, including checking before traveling abroad,” Biden said. ‘ said.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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