Washington, DC – Today Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) sent a letter to President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the administration to continue pursuing negotiations with all relevant parties for the release of Elizabeth Tsurkov, a PhD candidate in Political Science at Princeton University who was kidnapped in Iraq in March 2023 by Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), an Iranian-backed militia. 

The lawmakers wrote, “Ms. Tsurkov has now spent a year in captivity. Contrary to the categorically false and coerced statements that KH released in a proof of life video of Ms. Tsurkov last November, she is not a CIA agent but a journalist and political science doctoral candidate at Princeton who traveled to Iraq to conduct fieldwork for her study of strategies to reduce sectarian-based conflict in the Middle East.”  

The lawmakers continued, “Ms. Tsurkov is vocal and passionate about finding ways to foster peace in the Middle East, a region that she has studied and has written about in numerous publications. Despite the instability in the region, she bravely pursued her calling based on her conviction that there are concrete pathways to peace and security for the region.” 

Kata’ib Hezbollah has not made any demands to the Tsurkov family in return for Elizabeth’s release. The Iraqi government opened an investigation into the kidnapping three months after Ms. Tsurkov disappeared, with limited updates. Ms. Tsurkov’s family continues to work toward a breakthrough that could lead to her release. 

Prior to being kidnapped, Elizabeth had traveled to Iraq multiple times to conduct fieldwork for her dissertation. Ms. Tsurkov is also a journalist, with publications on the Middle East in multiple major outlets, including The Guardian, Foreign Policy and the Atlantic Council. She has also briefed House and Senate committees in her areas of expertise. 

Congressman Raskin was joined on the letter by Representatives André Carson (IN-07), Emmanual Cleaver II (MO-05), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-54), Andy Kim (NJ-03), James McGovern (MA-02), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Katie Porter (CA-45), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Dina Titus (NV-01), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12).