US official: FBI has exemption to arrange payments to hostage-takers

WASHINGTON - While US policy bans federal officials from doing business with kidnappers, the FBI for years has used a secret exemption to government rules to communicate with hostage-takers and sometimes send money to them, US government sources said.
Under a directive issued by President George W. Bush in 2002, the FBI can engage with suspected kidnappers, including on financial transactions, when the bureau has reason to believe it would be useful for an investigation or intelligence gathering.
The rules apply to both criminal situations inside the United States and international incidents such as kidnappings, two sources familiar with the rules said.
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