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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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August 27th, 2014
06:22 PM ET

Taliban kidnapping survivor: There’s only one way to save American hostages now

(CNN) – American journalist Steven Sotloff has been held hostage by terrorists for more than a year. His mother begged ISIS, the militant group that has her son, for mercy.

Her son has no control over what the United States government does, and he should not be held responsible for its actions, Shirley Sotloff said.

"He's an innocent journalist," she says.

Steven Sotloff appears at the end of the gruesome video ISIS released of the beheading of American journalist James Foley last week.

"The only way you can save an American hostage now is to, you know, to pay a very large ransom," said Reuters reporter David Rohde, who was previously kidnapped by the Taliban and held prisoner for seven months.

The U.S. government's policy is not to negotiate with terrorists. But that is out of step with other Western countries.

"The United States is not paying ransom. But Europe is paying ransom. There was a French, Spanish, and a Danish hostage held with James Foley and with Steven Sotloff. They were ransomed by their governments, and they're home and safe," said Rohde.

Countries that pay millions of dollars to secure the release of captive citizens "skew the market," he says.

"The American policy is that the government won't pay, but if a family or an organization can pay a ransom the U.S. Government will turn away. But again, when millions upon millions are being paid by France and other countries, it puts the Americans in an impossible situation," Rohde said.

For more of our interview with journalist David Rohde, check out the video above.

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