'Vicar of Baghdad' suspended after being accused of paying ransoms to free sex slaves from ISIS

Yazidi sisters, who escaped from captivity by Islamic State (IS) militants, sit in a tent at Sharya refugee camp on the outskirts of Duhok province July 3, 2015. July 23, 2015 10:05pm EDT | Reuters

The Anglican church leader known as the "Vicar of Baghdad" is being suspected of buying back sex slaves to free them from ISIS.

The Rev. Andrew White has been suspended from the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, where he sits as president, pending investigation of the case.

The charity is also being investigated by the Charity Commission, according to Anglican News. The inquiry into FRRME was opened on June 9.

The organization refused to comment on the issue while the inquiry is ongoing.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further on an active investigation other than to say that the Foundation believes at this stage that the alleged incident stemmed from a genuine desire by Canon White to help others," FRRME said in a statement.

White has denied the accusations. He clarified that his suspension was a consequence of "some inaccurate statements" he made about the charity's work on former ISIS sex slaves. He added that "at no time did we pay money to any terrorists," according to a Facebook post, Christian Today reported.

He added that the work focused only on helping those who have escaped and did not involve any exchange of money.

"We never gave the bad guys one penny. We were just helping those who had been released," he told Religion News Service in an email.

White also said he was not directly involved with Steve Maman, who leads the Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq, in freeing more than 100 former sex slaves from ISIS.

"White has nothing to do with the liberation aspect. He handles and provides support after they are liberated," Maman told Jewish Voice NY in an interview.

Maman's organization is being accused of paying $2,000 to $3,000 to buy back a sex slave from ISIS, which some people claim has helped the trade of selling sex slaves grow.

White used to be the pastor of St. George's Anglican Church in Baghdad. He was later asked by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to flee so he could escape ISIS fighters who were threatening his life.