US President Joe Biden Tuesday signed an executive order to deter and punish wrongful detention of US citizens abroad. The order allows US government agencies to impose sanctions and other measures to try to ensure US citizens will not be wrongfully detained.
Biden highlighted particular organizations against which the order is intended to protect US citizens, saying:
Terrorist organizations, criminal groups, and other malicious actors who take hostages for financial, political, or other gain — as well as foreign states that engage in the practice of wrongful detention, including for political leverage or to seek concessions from the United States — threaten the integrity of the international political system and the safety of United States nationals and other persons abroad.
The order tasks government agencies to use their offices abroad to immediately negotiate the release of any wrongfully detained US citizen. According to a statement by United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “[t]he sanctions authority included in the [order] enables the United States to impose financial and travel sanctions on those who are responsible for unjustly holding US nationals, whether their captor is a terrorist network or a state actor.”
The order’s release comes in part as a result of the ongoing detention of US citizen and WNBA player Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia on alleged drug charges.