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Sotloff Family Friend: Administration 'Bullied' Steven's Parents

By    |   Wednesday, 17 Sep 2014 02:08 PM

The Obama administration "bullied and hectored" the parents of journalist Steven Sotloff, who was killed by Islamic militants, when they wanted to raise ransom money to try to save their son, according to a family friend.

In an interview on "CBS This Morning," Barak Barfi, spokesman for Adam and Shirley Sotloff, said, "We had meetings with the administration. The family sat with the National Security Council officials. And basically [an unnamed Marine counterterrorism expert] bullied and hectored them and they were scared. He had no business telling them…"

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Like the family of journalist James Foley, the Sotloffs wanted to try to raise ransom money but both families say they were informed that was against the law and they could be prosecuted. Both men ultimately were beheaded in blood-curdling videos posted online by the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group.

The Foley video appeared on Aug. 19 and the Sotloff video appeared on Sept. 2, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Barfi told CBS, "I sat in other meetings with mid-level state department officials and the FBI and I basically heard the same thing. I tried to come up with creative solutions about how we can get around the law" forbidding ransom payments to terrorist groups.

"I said, 'Well, how do you know that the group holding Steve is a terrorist organization?' 'We know,' they said. Or, 'How would you know if we tried to transfer money?' 'The banks wouldn’t allow it.' They shot us down at every opportunity.

"We do not believe [the Obama administration] gave the cooperation we needed," Barfi said.

Diane Foley, mother of James Foley, told The New York Times that when she suggested paying ransom, "Our government was very clear that no ransom was going to be paid, or should be paid. It was horrible — and continues to be horrible. You are between a rock and a hard place."

Especially galling to the families is that the White House, while refusing to allow the payment of ransom, swapped five Taliban terrorist detainees held at Guantanamo Bay prison camp for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, claiming his case was different because he was considered a prisoner of war.

The Foleys say they were warned that they could be prosecuted if they attempted to raise and pay ransom to free their son, the Times says. At least 15 European prisoners held with Foley had been released after their governments had paid ransoms. Only the United States and Great Britain follow a firm no-ransom policy when dealing with terrorists.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough denied the administration had threatened the journalists' families with prosecution, and told "Fox News Sunday," "In terms of what was communicated to the families, in the midst of many, many meetings over the course of these very difficult circumstances, we made clear what the law is. We didn’t threaten anybody. That’s our responsibility, to make sure that we explain the law and uphold the law."

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The Obama administration "bullied and hectored" the parents of journalist Steven Sotloff, who was killed by Islamic militants, when they wanted to raise ransom money to try to save their son, according to a family friend.
Steven Sotloff, Barfi, administration, bullied, ransom
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2014-08-17
Wednesday, 17 Sep 2014 02:08 PM
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