News / Middle East

WH: No Ransom Paid for Kidnapped US Journalist

Journalist Peter Theo Curtis (al Jazeera)
Journalist Peter Theo Curtis (al Jazeera)
VOA News

The White House says no ransom was paid to Islamic extremists to free kidnapped U.S. journalist Peter Theo Curtis.

While the exact conditions of Curtis' release are still unclear, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday U.S. officials put the Curtis family in touch with authorities in Qatar who dealt with Nusra Front, the group holding him for nearly two years.

Earnest says the U.S. asked Qatar not to pay a ransom for Curtis, which is longstanding U.S. policy.

Nusra Front handed Curtis over to United Nations peacekeepers in Syria's Golan Heights Sunday. The front is one of several Islamic groups fighting to topple the Syrian government.

FILE - American journalist James Wright Foley.FILE - American journalist James Wright Foley.
FILE - American journalist James Wright Foley.
FILE - American journalist James Wright Foley.

Curtis' release came just days after another group, Islamic State, videotaped its beheading of American journalist Jim Foley and posted the gruesome scene on the Internet. It has threatened to kill another American journalist held hostage if U.S. airstrikes in Iraq do not stop.

Middle East experts say Curtis' release reveals the growing split between the different al-Qaida offshoots fighting for power in Syria.

Nusra Front recently broke off relations with Islamic State, saying its methods were too brutal. The experts say the front does not want to be associated with Islamic State and wants to avoid U.S. military retaliation.

The U.N. has accused the Islamic State group with horrific and widespread human rights violations, ranging from mass executions to slavery and rape. The group has declared a caliphate in large parts of eastern Syria and northern Iraq.


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