On Friday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby responded to concerns that the unfreezing of assets as part of a reported prisoner deal with Iran will incentivize Iran to take more Americans hostage by stating that “it’s not like the regime in Iran needed another excuse to see value in detaining Americans,” but acknowledged that there has been a “deeply concerning” rise in state-sponsored hostage-taking by countries like Iran.
Co-host and POLITICO White House Bureau Chief Jonathan Lemire asked, “There’s certainly been some pushback, though, that there’s a sense this could be incentivizing hostage-taking like this. But respond to that if you will, but more than that, what is the level of concern there in the administration that these are not rogue terrorist groups taking hostages? We’ve seen a rise in recent years of state-sponsored prisoner-taking, state-sponsored hostage-taking by the Iranians, but also, of course, Russia and elsewhere.”
Kirby responded, “It’s deeply concerning, Jonathan. And that’s why the State Department now has a new label for detention risk for countries around the world. Because you’re right, it is now state actors, official governments, that are reaching out and trying to detain foreigners, including Americans. And look, as for the, this is going to give them an excuse to do more, it’s not like the regime in Iran needed another excuse to see value in detaining Americans, any more than Mr. Putin did. It’s dangerous in some of these countries, and that’s why we warn people, before you go, you ought to check out the State Department’s website, look at the travel advisories, and make an informed decision before you go to a country like Russia or Iran, where a detention risk is a real possibility. That said, Jonathan, if that happens to you, you need to know that this administration and this president [are] going to do everything we can to get you home. And we’re going to do that as fast as we can. We’re going to keep your families informed. And if it means making some tough decisions, well, we’ll make those tough decisions.”
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