The Biden Administration has negotiated with the regime of Nicolás Maduro for the past several months; despite this, it fears retaliation for its citizens when visiting Venezuela and other dictatorial nations.
The United States on Tuesday issued a warning to its citizens against the risk of being arbitrarily detained and used as hostages if they travel to Venezuela, China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Burma.
In a telephone call with reporters, a senior government official explained that as of today, a new category would be added to the travel alerts issued by the State Department to take into account this risk before traveling.
The move is part of an executive order to be signed by President Joe Biden later Tuesday that also includes increased assistance and support for the families of Americans arbitrarily detained abroad, issuing sanctions against the countries involved in the matter.
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The indicator of whether a citizen is at risk of being detained and used as a hostage will be marked on the State Department’s website under the letter “D.” It will be updated as the government’s risk assessment changes so that the current six countries could lose that category in the future and others gain it.
Biden’s executive order also urges various branches of government to share with the families of the detainee’s relevant intelligence information regarding their status and possible developments and negotiations for their release or return to the United States.
In addition, the President tasked experts from different government agencies to develop strategies and explore options to stop future cases of hostage-taking and arbitrary detentions abroad.
About the imposition of sanctions on those countries involved, these may be financial and may be applied both to those who have been directly involved in the detention and those who have participated indirectly.
The executive order will be signed at a time when U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia since last February for traveling with hashish oils for vaping, a substance banned in that country.
Griner admitted to all charges but claimed she had no intent to commit a crime and asked for Biden’s help in a letter.
Griner’s arrest coincided with a time of peak tension between Washington and Moscow when Russia was massing troops on the Ukrainian border, and the United States was warning of an imminent invasion of Ukraine, which Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered.