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Jump to: 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020;
-- 2016 --
August 3: For two days, Donald Trump told rally audiences a detailed account of seeing video footage of stacks of cash being taken off an airplane, destined to pay Iran for the release of American hostages.
Now, even Trump acknowledges that such video footage doesn’t exist.
The issue emerged because news reports suggested that a $400 million cash payment from the U.S. government amounted to ransom for hostages held by Iran. Republicans have charged that a quid pro quo ran counter to longstanding U.S. policy not to pay ransom for hostages. The [Obama] White House has responded that the payments were the conclusion of a decades-old dispute over funds frozen after the fall of the Shah of Iran and were not a ransom.
So what actually happened?
August 19: Donald Trump: Obama ‘lied about the hostages’
Donald Trump last night blasted the Obama administration’s $400 million “ransom” payment to Iran as he attempted to tie the trade to Hillary Clinton, deeming his rival for the Oval Office unfit to serve.
“Speaking of lies, we now know from the State Department announcement that President Obama lied about the $400 million in cash that was flown to Iran. He denied it was for the hostages, but it was,” Trump said in Charlotte, N.C.
“He said we don’t pay ransom, but he did. He lied about the hostages — openly and blatantly — just like he lied about Obamacare,” Trump added. “Now the administration has put every American traveling overseas, including our military personnel, at greater risk of being kidnapped. Hillary Clinton owns President Obama’s Iran policy, one more reason ?she can never be allowed to be president.”
The revelation from the State Department yesterday that the $400 million cash payment was contingent on the release of four American prisoners brought condemnation from the GOP presidential nominee and others in the party.
Iran was forbidden from taking control of the money until a Swiss Air Force plane carrying the freed American prisoners took off from Tehran on Jan. 17, a State Department spokesman confirmed.
American officials deny the payment was “ransom,” arguing it was money the U.S. owed to Iran dating to the late 1970s, just before the American hostage crisis.
Still, the development could benefit Trump, who had railed against the payment to Iran for the last few weeks — at one point, he falsely claimed to have seen video of the money being unloaded from an American plane.
-- 2017 --
February 21: Trump tops inmates’ reasons for taking hostages ... Education for prisoners was also cited as why situation took place
... inmates reached out to The News Journal in two phone calls to explain their actions and make demands. Prisoners funneled the calls to the paper with the help of one inmate’s fiancee and another person’s mother. The mother told the paper her son was among the hostages.
In that call, an inmate said their reasons “for doing what we’re doing” included “Donald Trump. Everything that he did. All the things that he’s doing now. We know that the institution is going to change for the worse.”
That caller said education for prisoners was the inmates’ priority. They also said they want effective rehabilitation for all prisoners and information about how money is allocated to prisons.
October 12: An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three children have been freed from captivity by Pakistani security forces, nearly five years after being taken hostage by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network in Afghanistan.
October 12: Trump issued a statement earlier Thursday confirming the recovery of the hostages.
"The United States government, working in conjunction with the government of Pakistan, secured the release of the Boyle-Coleman family from captivity in Pakistan," the statement said.
October 12: US officials provided this new intelligence to the Pakistani authorities and US officials even began unilaterally discussing a possible US-staged rescue attempt.
However, to the surprise of the US government, the Pakistani authorities soon called back their US counterparts, informing them that they had taken custody of all five family members.
October 12: "The United States government, working in conjunction with the government of Pakistan, secured the release of the Boyle-Coleman family from captivity in Pakistan," the statement said.
"This is a positive moment for our country's relationship with Pakistan," Trump
added, saying, "The Pakistani government's cooperation is a sign that it is
honoring America's wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region."
October 16: Freed Taliban Hostage Thought Captors Were Joking About Trump Presidency
... he didn’t realize that Donald Trump was actually the president of the United States, thinking it was just a joke made by one of his Taliban captors:
October 18: Is Trump Helping to Free American Hostages Worldwide? ... Last week, veering off script in a speech ostensibly about his tax plan, President Donald Trump touted yet another new accomplishment by his Administration. “America is being respected again,” Trump proclaimed at a campaign-style rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “Something happened today where a country that totally disrespected us called with some very, very important news. And one of my generals came in, they said, ‘You know, I have to tell you, a year ago they would have never done that.’ ”
“It was a great sign of respect,” Trump added. “You’ll probably be hearing about it over the next few days.”
The “very, very important news” was that Pakistan’s military had freed a Canadian man, his American wife, and their three young children, who had been held hostage for five years by a Taliban faction known as the Haqqani network.
Current and former U.S. officials praise the release of the Boyles but tell a different story about the Administration’s role in it. According to them, Trump’s hostage policy has largely followed the same pattern as his other policy initiatives: he has exaggerated his achievements, played to his political base, failed to fill a key appointment, and limited his impact by taking an ad-hoc approach that focusses on his own personal intervention.
After James Foley and three other Americans were murdered in Syria by ISIS, in 2014 and 2015, the Obama Administration enacted sweeping reforms designed to integrate the freeing of hostages into the U.S. government’s foreign-policymaking process.
-- 2018 --
January 23: Remembering North Korea's Audacious Capture Of The USS Pueblo
It's not how things were supposed to go. The USS Pueblo, misleadingly identified on its hull as GER-2, was on its maiden mission as a spy ship for Naval Intelligence and the National Security Agency. Originally a World War II vintage cargo hauler, the Pueblo was posing as an environmental research vessel when it sailed into international waters off North Korea's eastern coast.
It was January of 1968, and even with both the Vietnam War and the Cold War raging, American military officials expected the Pueblo would have no trouble — as long as it kept to international waters.
January 23: ‘Beaten every day’: North Korea tortured USS Pueblo crew members, gathering damaging intel
On Jan. 23, 1968, in an attack overshadowed by Vietnam and all the other drama yet to unfold in that chaotic year, the USS Pueblo was attacked in the Sea of Japan by North Korean torpedo boats. The vessel was captured. So were more than 80 crew members, held almost a year. [also see June 11]
January 25: North Korea proudly displays captured USS Pueblo as war trophy
This week marks the 50th anniversary of when the USS Pueblo was captured by North Korea -- and the Hermit Kingdom is seizing on the opportunity to aggrandize the U.S. Navy ship’s capture as a trophy against Washington amid escalating tensions.
May 3: President Trump's administration said that three U.S. prisoners held by North Korea may soon be released and that his policies have succeeded where previous administrations failed.
But past U.S. presidents have won the release of prisoners from North Korea, and the regime in Pyongyang routinely uses detainees as bargaining chips.
"This is a pretty regular thing," said Jeffrey Lewis, an analyst at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. "North Korea grabs people and ransoms them when things get better."
May 6: CLAIM: The Obama administration failed to secure the release of three men being detained by North Korea in 2018.
Rating: Mostly False.
The Obama administration was unable to secure the release of one American who was still being held by North Korea in 2018.
Two of the men being held by North Korea in 2018 were arrested during Donald Trump's presidency.
May 9: Trump adviser Bolton criticized Obama's 'hostage' talks; now welcomes them with North Korea
May 10: President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate and Appoint Personnel to Key Administration Posts
Robert Charles O’Brien of California, to be the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.
May 10: Trump Greets 3 American Detainees Freed From North Korea
May 10: A brief recent history of political prisoners and hostages
May 26: Joshua Holt, an American Held in a Venezuelan Jail for 2 Years, Is Back in the U.S.
Mr. Holt was arrested shortly after arriving in Venezuela and was accused by the government there of stockpiling weapons. Supporters said they believed that the charges were overstated by the Venezuelan government.
May 27: Here Are The 17 Prisoners Trump Has Freed Since He Took Office
Since President Donald Trump took office, his administration has secured the release of 17 prisoners foreign governments had detained.
“We’ve had 17 released, and we’re very proud of that record. Very proud. And we have others coming,” Trump said Saturday evening as he welcomed home Joshua Holt, an American citizen who had been detained in Venezuela for two years without trial.
June 11: USS Pueblo still held hostage by North Korea as Trump, Kim meet
[Also see September 4]
June 18: Why Trump Is Using Hostage Tactics on Family Separation
June 23: The Untold Story of Otto Warmbier, American Hostage
August 1: For nearly four decades, Iran has imprisoned American citizens. And for nearly four decades, Washington has strived to free prisoners through diplomacy, force or persuasion. The dynamic has bedeviled presidents Democratic and Republican
September 4: USS Pueblo: Crew of US Navy ship seized by North Korea sues Pyongyang
[also see January and June links]
October 13: Brunson case fits with Trump's hostage release foreign policy
Meeting with Brunson fits well with the kind of diplomacy that Trump enjoys. Releasing hostages has been one of the most successful parts of his presidency. Indeed, Trump can claim success in a number of high-profile cases, including the release of Aya Hijazi from Egypt, Caitlan Coleman and her family from Afghanistan, and three American hostages from North Korea.
October 18: Putin Says ISIS Has Hundreds of Hostages in Syria, Including U.S. and European Citizens
Putin added that Islamic State militants had seized nearly 700 hostages in part of Syria controlled by U.S.-backed forces and issued an ultimatum promising to execute 10 people every day
December 3: Families of Americans detained in Iran have urged the Trump administration to deny U.S. visas to the children of top-ranking officials in the Iranian government, but the White House has yet to take action, two sources close to the families told NBC News.
The families of the imprisoned Americans see the administration's response to their request as part of a broader failure to place a top priority on securing the release of their loved ones, despite a campaign promise from the president to resolve the issue, two family friends and two congressional aides told NBC News.
At least four American citizens and one U.S. legal resident are currently imprisoned in Iran after secretive trials on charges of alleged espionage. Human rights groups say the detentions are arbitrary and baseless.
December 7: Five of the hostages, including two children, were in a car hijacked by the robbers as they tried to flee the scene.
-- 2019 --
-- 2020 --
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