Social justice activist and writer Shaun King is facing pushback for saying he helped secure the release of two American hostages held by Hamas.
But in a statement to Urban Hollywood 411 on Saturday, Oct. 21, King responded to his critics by saying, “I will provide all of the records and receipts shortly.”
Judith Tai Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie Raanan, 17, were released Friday after being taken captive when Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7. The women from Illinois were among an estimated 200 people being held by Hamas.
Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, released a statement on its Telegram channel Friday, saying the Americans were freed “for humanitarian reasons,” following negotiations with Qatar.
As news of the women’s release spread around the world, King posted a message on Facebook, telling his 2.5 million followers he played a role in freeing the Raanans, adding that Natalie has been one of his “supporters” in the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Hamas has just freed the teenager Natalie Raanan and her mother. I’m grateful,” King captioned a photo of Natalie. “As I said last week, Natalie and her family have been supporters of mine and protested police violence in America alongside us.”
King thanked the Qatari government for helping to secure the women’s release and added, “Dozens of us worked frantically behind the scenes to help make this possible.”
When questioned about his comments, King told Urban Hollywood 411 in an email exchange that he has records of his conversations regarding the two hostages.
“Of course I spoke directly and repeatedly with this family. I have a job, career, and family. I would be throwing everything away to make such a thing up. I spoke to them by phone, text, and direct message. Thankfully I kept record of all of them,” King wrote.
He added that he’s spoken to members of the family since the women were released.
“They reached out to me. I am told that the Israeli government is now pressuring them to say they don’t know me. I will provide all of the records and receipts shortly. The family is still in Israel and told me they feel they are in danger,” he concluded.
King’s claim that the women are being pressured could not be verified.
Following the women’s release, the activist trended on X (formerly Twitter), with many users disputing his claims that he played a role in negotiating the release of the two Americans.
“Please tell everyone you know that Shaun King is a shady, snake oil scammer who stands for nothing. He’s an attention wh-re who is only on the side of money,” one person posted on X.
“Not Shaun King using the Israel-Palestine conflict to swindle the masses. Talking bout he helped to free hostages & is negotiating a ceasefire. That man is going to hell,” another person wrote.
Meanwhile, Philip Lewis, a senior editor at Huff Post shared a link to a statement on Saturday saying Judith and Natalie don’t know King.
“Judith and Natalie have no idea who [Shaun King] is. They heard about him and the post for the first time only after they were released,” read the statement Lewis shared.
The White House released a video on Saturday showing a conversation Judith and Natalie had with President Joe Biden. The women thanked Biden for his “services to Israel” and for helping get them out of Gaza.
NBC News reported Judith and Natalie are American Israeli citizens and were in Israel for a relative’s birthday when militants stormed kibbutz Nahal Oz.