By Justin Sink - 05/13/14 02:07 PM EDT
The White House opposes offering a ransom in exchange for the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.
"When it comes to the approach to Boko Haram in this case, Nigeria, of course, has the lead, and we play a supporting role. It is the policy of the United States to deny kidnappers the benefits of their criminal acts, and that includes ransoms or concessions," Carney told reporters at the White House.
The White House spokesman indicated that the FBI hostage negotiators dispatched to consult with the Nigerian government in the search for the girls would be reiterating that position.
"I can't speak to every conversation, but that is certainly the position of the United States, that we as a matter of policy deny kidnappers the benefits of their criminal acts, and that includes ransoms or other concessions," Carney said.
In a 17-minute video released to Agence France-Presse and The Associated Press earlier this week, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau offered to release the schoolgirls in exchange for members from the terrorist network.
“I swear to almighty Allah, you will not see them again until you release our brothers that you have captured,” Shekau said.
Shekau had previously demanded a monetary ransom, threatening to sell the girls into sex slavery if their families refused to pay.
Nigerian government officials indicated they may be willing to consider a prisoner swap in a news conference on Monday.
"The government of Nigeria is considering all options towards freeing the girls and reuniting them with their parents," Nigerian presidential aide Mike Omeri told AFP.
Earlier Tuesday, the administration confirmed that U.S. spy planes had joined the search for the girls. The administration is also sharing commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerian government, which gave the U.S. permission to conduct the manned flights.
Those steps come in addition to a interdisciplinary team dispatched to the American embassy in Abuja, which is providing logistical and technical support as the Nigerian government searches for the missing schoolchildren.