CNN reporter Elise Labott raised her voice multiple times at State Department spokesman John Kirby during an exchange about American hostages in Yemen during Tuesday’s State briefing.
Labott asked Kirby about the U.S.’s efforts to bring back Scott Darden, who has reportedly been in the custody of Houthi, a Shiite rebel group in control of significant parts of the country, for several months. Kirby said he would not comment on the reports due to privacy considerations.
"Did you just say that you are aware of reports?" Labott asked incredulously. "Are you really saying you are aware of reports when this guy was detained in March?"
Labott repeatedly alleged the State Department has already recognized the existence of several American hostages in the Gulf country torn apart by civil war. Officials revealed in May that Houthi rebels had at least four Americans in the capital city of Sana.
Darden was identified as one of the hostages in Yemen on Monday. From Atlanta, Darden was captured while living abroad working for Transoceanic Development.
"We are aware of reports that several U.S. citizens are detained in Yemen. Due to privacy considerations, we do not have any further personal details or information to share," the State Department said Monday in response to Darden’s identity revealed, mirroring Kirby’s comments on Tuesday.
"To say that you are aware of reports is a little bit disingenuous," Labott said.
A U.S. envoy secretly met with Houthi rebels to seek a ceasefire and bring back the hostages. In May, State Department officials confirmed they were doing their best to secure the release of Americans held against their will in Yemen.
"I understand that you’d like a different answer," Kirby said. "I just can’t give you one."