May 9, 2018

Trump confirms 3 Americans freed by North Korea

President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is returning from North Korea with the three Americans — Tony Kim, Kim Hak-song, and Kim Dong-chul — who had been detained there.

More from POTUS: "Secretary Pompeo and his 'guests' will be landing at Andrews Air Force Base at 2:00 A.M. in the morning. I will be there to greet them. Very exciting!"

Who they are, per the NYT:

  • Tony Kim, detained since April 23, 2017: He spent a month teaching accounting at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. A source told Reuters that his arrest was not related to his teaching: “He had been involved with some other activities outside P.U.S.T., such as helping an orphanage.”
  • Kim Hak-song, detained since May 6, 2017: He also worked at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. Per the Times, "it was not clear whether his arrest was connected with that of Tony Kim two weeks earlier."
  • Kim Dong-chul, detained since 2015: The most mysterious of the prisoners, the Times reports that "Mr. Kim appeared at a government-arranged news conference in Pyongyang [in March 2016] and apologized for trying to steal military secrets in collusion with South Koreans."

A statement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders:

"At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other representatives of the United States government traveled to Pyongyang, North Korea on May 9 to prepare for the President’s upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. During Secretary Pompeo’s visit, the North Korean leadership released three American detainees.  President Trump appreciates leader Kim Jong Un’s action to release these American citizens, and views this as a positive gesture of goodwill.  The three Americans appear to be in good condition and were all able to walk on the plane without assistance. All Americans look forward to welcoming them home and to seeing them reunited with their loved ones."

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