Foley Foundation President Criticizes Washington Post Editorial, Says No-Negotiations Position Flawed

WASHINGTON (Sept. 20, 2023) – James W. Foley Legacy Foundation Founder and President Diane Foley said today she was “saddened” by a Washington Post editorial published Sept. 18 that criticized the negotiated release of five Americans who had been wrongfully detained for years by Iran.

“The Washington Post editorial said the prisoner swap and release of $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets will encourage more wrongful detentions by state actors, but there is no evidence that refusing to negotiate with hostile countries prevents future detentions,” Foley said. “In fact, we know that refusing to negotiate with hostage takers leads to the murder and horrific exploitation of our people like my son, James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller in 2014. The tragic deaths of Robert Levinson and Otto Warmbier are other examples of wrongful detainees whose lives were lost under that policy.”

About 90% of current American captives are held by state actors, according to the 2023 “Bringing Americans Home” report issued last week by the Foley Foundation. “Diplomatic negotiation is a must if our fellow citizens are to be brought home. Successive administrations have engaged in these difficult negotiations, exhibiting the moral courage needed to free Americans being held in foreign prisons by hostile governments,” Foley said.

According to the report, 25 wrongful detainees were released between January 2022 and July 31, 2023. Of those, 17 cases were resolved through diplomatic engagement. There were three instances of prisoner swaps that secured the release of nine U.S. nationals, three were reportedly granted as humanitarian gestures and three resulted from paying a fine, completion of a sentence or a rescue operation. The details of 10 releases of U.S. nationals are not publicly available.

Foley noted that the research report’s “top recommendation is for a comprehensive review of our current US hostage enterprise now that nation states are primary culprits and a comprehensive deterrence strategy.”