White House Unveils New Executive Order On US Hostages, Wrongful Detainees

President Joe Biden signed a new executive order aimed to discourage hostage taking and wrongful detentions on Tuesday (July 19) in an ongoing effort to return Americans who are wrongfully detained internationally home, CNN reports.

The executive order declared a national emergency in relation to hostage situations involving Americans abroad, referring to the incidents as “heinous acts” that present “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

The administration will be directed to “identify and recommend options and strategies to the President … to secure the recovery of hostages or the return of wrongfully detained United States nationals,” as well as “coordinate the development and implementation of policies, strategies, and procedures for the recovery of hostages or the return of wrongfully detained United States nationals,” in adherence with the new executive order.

Additionally, the Biden administration announced plans to use a new indicator on State Department travel advisories to identify countries that may pose the risk of U.S. citizens being taken hostage or wrongfully detained while traveling there, which will include Mayanmar (also known as Burma), China, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela, all of which will be labeled with a “D” risk indicator, a senior official confirmed to CNN.

“The United States Government must redouble its efforts at home and with partners abroad to deter these practices and to secure the release of those held as hostages or wrongfully detained,” Biden said via CNN.

Families of detained Americans were notified of the new executive order during a call with administration officials on Monday (July 18), with many viewing the legislation as a key factor in their loved ones returning to the U.S.

Others, however, voiced their frustration, claiming that the administration still hasn’t addressed larger concerns and requests, specifically regarding a proposed meeting with the president.

“I can’t speak to the President’s particular schedule, but I can speak to his commitment to these issues, to the priority he places on bringing home Americans held hostage abroad, wrongfully detained abroad,” a senior administration official said while addressing reporters when asked by CNN if President Biden planned to meet with the families of detained Americans in Washington, D.C. this week.

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