Report: US hostage families seek better government support

WASHINGTON — Relatives of Americans who are wrongfully imprisoned abroad or held hostage by militant groups say in a report Thursday that the US government must do better in communicating with them, though they cite improvements over the past five years.

Several of those interviewed for the report say they do not believe that the cases of their loved ones have the attention of the highest levels of government. In particular, family members of Americans detained by foreign governments on trumped-up charges are less satisfied with the information they receive than are relatives of hostages held by militant or criminal groups.


The report from the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation is based on interviews with 25 former hostages and their relatives and advocates. It cites improvements in the government’s response since officials overhauled the hostage policy five years ago, but says relatives still want more complete information and clarity about which agency is supposed to help them. Some want the government to declassify more information so that it can be shared, or to provide limited security clearances.

The report says the policy changes have been effective and durable, resulting in better government access for hostage families and more resources. But it also says families of other detainees don’t feel like their cases are prioritized in the same way.