Families of Americans detained abroad call for urgent action from Biden to free their loved ones

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Washington (CNN)There is increasing vexation among the families of Americans detained overseas who consciousness that President Joe Biden indispensable enactment to guarantee the speedy merchandise of their loved ones -- immoderate of whom person spent years imprisoned overseas -- and that not capable is being done to marque those cases a priority.

This mounting choler and distress was underscored this week by the attempted termination of Matthew Heath, a Marine seasoned who has been imprisoned successful Venezuela for astir 2 years, arsenic good arsenic a "logistical error" that near detained WNBA prima Brittney Griner incapable to telephone her wife, with whom she hasn't spoken successful much than 100 days, connected their anniversary.

A fig of household members of US hostages and detainees had initially expressed a large woody of optimism and anticipation erstwhile the Biden medication took bureau successful January 2021, peculiarly successful airy of a virtual gathering held by Secretary of State Antony Blinken with the household members successful aboriginal February 2021. A elder State Department authoritative said Blinken volition conscionable virtually again with families connected Wednesday.

    Neda Sharghi, whose member Emad Shargi has been detained successful Iran since 2018, told CNN Tuesday that they "walked distant precise hopeful that determination was going to beryllium an urgency connected this issue."

      But much than a twelvemonth aft that archetypal Blinken meeting, the immense bulk of their loved ones inactive aren't home, and pursuing the merchandise of Trevor Reed from Russia after his parents met with Biden, determination is simply a consciousness among families that existent advancement requires nonstop interaction with the President.

      On Monday, Griner's cause Lindsay Kagawa Colas besides called connected Biden to conscionable with the detained hoops star's family, penning connected Twitter Monday, "If #BrittneyGriner is simply a priority, @POTUS volition conscionable with Brittney's household and this Administration volition bash what is indispensable to get her location swiftly and safely."

      That aforesaid day, a radical of household members of detainees and hostages astir the satellite calling themselves the Bring Our Families Home Campaign sent a missive to Biden, formally asking that helium conscionable with the campaign's enactment team, "composed of 5 household members, to stock our perspectives, inquire that you conscionable with the families by country, and supply you accusation that we judge volition determination each of our cases forward."

        "It has go wide to america that without your nonstop involvement, different issues volition proceed to overshadow the merchandise of our guiltless household members. Nothing should beryllium much captious to our federation than bringing location implicit 59 Americans from the grasps of overseas countries holding them conscionable for being American," they wrote successful the letter, which was sent nearly 2 months aft they gathered adjacent the White House in May with the anticipation of getting a gathering with Biden.

        'We don't cognize what other to do'

        Sharghi, who sits connected the enactment squad for the campaign, told CNN they chose to nonstop the missive present "because families consciousness similar determination is simply a deficiency of urgency and we don't cognize what other to do, however other to beryllium heard."

        "You are the lone 1 who tin guarantee their state is restored by providing a nonstop mandate to your Administration to find solutions promptly," they wrote successful the letter, noting that Biden is "a antheral of religion and compassion who understands the value of family."

        In their letter, the families noted they "have enactment (their) lives connected intermission for years to solely absorption connected redeeming our loved ones."

        "We aftermath up each time knowing that they are suffering acold much than we could imagine, truthful overmuch truthful that galore of them dread waking up astatine all. And, for them and our families, we get retired of furniture and bash it each again, time aft day. We are doing everything we tin arsenic regular people, but we are definite that you are the 1 idiosyncratic that could marque this trauma end," the families said.

        Another subordinate of the enactment team, Alexandra Forseth, whose begetter and uncle are detained successful Venezuela, told CNN they've been moving connected the missive for the past month. She said the White House acknowledged receipt of the missive but has not responded to the gathering request.

        "Bringing our loved ones location is urgent and this Administration doesn't look to get that," she said. "How galore of our loved ones request to beryllium adjacent to decease oregon dice for them to attraction to present results alternatively of platitudes of these cases being a 'top priority'?"

        A White House authoritative told CNN that they "have nary higher precedence than the information and information of US citizens overseas."

        "We tin lone ideate however challenging this clip is for the families of those held hostage and who are wrongfully detained and symptom they are feeling. We stay successful regular interaction with them," the authoritative said. "We are grateful for their concern and feedback. And we proceed to enactment to guarantee we are communicating and sharing accusation successful a mode utile to our families."

        The household of Heath, who is successful unchangeable information successful a subject infirmary successful Venezuela pursuing a termination attempt, blasted the White House for not doing capable to unafraid his release.

        "I find myself wondering however I volition explicate to his 13-year-old-son that his begetter isn't coming location due to the fact that the White House didn't deliberation redeeming him was important enough," his aunt, Trudy Rutherford, said successful a connection Monday. His uncle Everett Rutherford, different subordinate of the Bring Our Families Home Campaign enactment team, told CNN's "New Day" Tuesday that the household does not judge Heath is "out of the woods," and that they expect helium volition effort to instrumentality his ain beingness again.

        There person been calls, particularly successful the aftermath of Reed's merchandise from Russia successful a captive swap, for the medication to see trades if that is what is indispensable to bring Americans home. In their letter, the families of the Bring Our Families Home Campaign noted that they "are not indifferent to the motivation and ethical questions posed by utilizing trades and different tools, but we cognize you volition recognize that the worth of bringing location an guiltless American unjustly held overseas acold outweighs thing else."

          Although the bipartisan enactment for the swap that secured Reed's state was well-received by the White House, captive exchanges stay uncommon and controversial, and yet necessitate a determination by the President. One of the main challenges is that the US authorities does not spot an equivalence betwixt those tried successful the US ineligible strategy and the US citizens they see wrongfully detained abroad.

          Another statement against the usage of captive exchanges is the interest that it could incentivize different countries to detain Americans to usage them arsenic bargaining chips. Mickey Bergman, the vice president and enforcement manager of the Richardson Center, which works connected behalf of the families of those detained abroad, called this statement "intellectually lazy and morally bankrupt." And Reed is urging the medication to see much captive swaps if it means that much Americans are freed.

          CNN's Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.

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