The FBI has been accused of deceiving the wife of an American hostage while efforts were being made to secure the release of Christian humanitarian aid worker Jeff Woodke, who had been held captive by Islamic extremists for over six years.

In March, Woodke finally regained his freedom and shared his harrowing time in captivity since being abducted from his residence in Niger by Islamic militants in October 2016.

The 62-year-old and his wife, Els, expressed their belief to the Associated Press that FBI officials had concealed information and provided them with misleading details regarding the extent of the kidnappers’ demands.

“It was hell. I think the hardest part was knowing that my family, if they were alive, they were suffering too,” Woodke said. Throughout the course of his captivity, the missionary — who worked with U.S. non-profit Youth With A Mission — was placed in chains, subjected to beatings, and pressured to convert to Islam.

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The Woodkes’ revealed that there was a significant lack of effective communication from U.S. officials regarding the progress of negotiations, and they received minimal assistance in raising funds for a ransom. Els Woodke recounted her mounting frustration, which reached a boiling point during a Zoom call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken a few weeks before her husband’s release.

“I said, if it was you that had been kidnapped, you would be free in a week because your wife is free to take from your money and buy you free,” she recalls telling Blinken. “So because you are rich, you can pay the ransom. But a poor person is never able to do that.”

Although the White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that Woodke’s release to the U.S was the result of “hard, grueling, deliberate work,” it was never really confirmed why Woodke was released on March 20.

The FBI assured the public, “We are committed to continuing to support Jeff and his family.”

Woodke is recuperating from his leg injuries while grappling with mounting medical expenses. Even after returning to the United States, he stated, “We’re not things, we’re not bargaining chips, we’re not cases — we’re people,” he said. “We don’t want to sit under trees in chains. Our families don’t want to have to suffer.”

Currently residing in McKinleyville, California, Woodke continues to feel abandoned by the U.S. government, as he endured the torment of captivity in Africa, chained and alone.

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