A senior RCMP official says the national police force has sometimes assured private companies they won't be prosecuted for dealing with hostage-takers on behalf of desperate Canadian families.
James Malizia, the RCMP assistant commissioner for national security, tells a Senate committee today that the primary focus for the force is the safe release of the hostages.
As a result, the Mounties have provided so-called ``comfort letters'' to private agencies assisting families, saying they will not be criminally investigated for negotiating with terrorists or other criminals.
The Canadian government has a long-standing policy against paying ransoms in hostage-takings. David Drake, a director general at Global Affairs Canada, says he is unaware of a case in which the federal government has either directly or indirectly paid a ransom.
He says the government is firm in its resolve to deny terrorists the resources they need to conduct attacks against Canada, its allies and partners.