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Senators Shaheen, Menendez, Risch, Hagerty Applaud SFRC Approval of Americans Wrongfully or Unlawfully Detained Abroad Act of 2023

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, issued the following statement on committee-passage of her bipartisan bill, the Supporting Americans Wrongfully or Unlawfully Detained Abroad Act of 2023. The bipartisan legislation to bolster support for families advocating for the release of their loved ones wrongfully or unlawfully detained abroad advanced through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday. The bill is led by Senate Foreign Relations Ranking Member and Chairman, Jim Risch (R-ID) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and also cosponsored by U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN).

The legislation authorizes the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department to cover the costs of travel to Washington, D.C. for family of Americans who are wrongfully or unlawfully detained abroad. It also encourages the Department to make mental health support available to detainees and their families.

“Any time an American is wrongfully detained abroad it is incumbent upon the United States to do everything in our power to bring them home to their loved ones. I am proud to partner with Senator Menendez, Senator Risch, and Senator Hagerty to ensure that this bipartisan legislation gives families the critical travel assistance they need at such a difficult time. Our effort cleared an important committee hurdle—I urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to help us get this over the finish line in the Senate," said Senator Shaheen.

Find a copy of the legislation HERE.

Shaheen has worked on numerous cases of Americans unjustly detained by foreign governments. She worked to secure the freedom of Granite Stater Amer Fakhoury, who was detained in Lebanon, as well as Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey. Shaheen is also a leading advocate for families of hostages, and has worked to see the ISIS terrorists culpable in the murders of New Hampshire native and journalist, James Foley, as well as Americans Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller, stand trial in the United States for their crimes.