Families of US citizens held by adversaries including Russia, China, Venezuela and Iran, have teamed up to pressure President Joe Biden to intervene to try to release their loved ones.
Impatient with the quiet lobbying of the administration that produced limited results, the families have started to collectively urge Biden to make the issue a higher priority and take more concrete steps such as arranging further prisoner swaps with foreign governments, Reuters reported on Thursday.
In a guest essay for the New York Times written "while caged in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison,” Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi, who is the longest-held Iranian American prisoner, asked Biden to “End This Nightmare.”
Russia's April release of former US Marine Trevor Reed – who was exchanged with a Russia pilot after three years of detention -- intensified calls by relatives of others held overseas for Biden to act.
Neda Shargi, the sister of jailed Iranian-American businessman Emad Sharghi (Shargi), said, "The momentum and collective voice that you see among the families was... really sparked by the Reed release." "We are stronger together than in our individual advocacy."
Some families have launched the Bring Our Families Home Campaign and even demonstrated outside the White House to make their efforts more visible.
The US government has not disclosed an official number of Americans detained abroad. The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation lists more than 60 US citizens wrongfully in countries including Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Egypt, Mali, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Yemen, and Iran.