iStock/Thinkstock(PYONGYANG, North Korea) — President Trump said Wednesday the three American men who have been detained in North Korea are on their way home with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The president wrote in a tweet, “I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting. They seem to be in good health. Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un. Date & Place set.”
The three detainees
The three Americans — Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Kim Sang Duk, who is also known as Tony Kim — have been detained by North Koreans for more than a year.
Kim Dong Chul is the longest-known U.S. detainee in North Korea, having spent at least 900 days in custody.
He is a South Korean-born U.S. businessman and pastor arrested in October 2015.
His arrest stemmed from an allegation that he was trying to meet with a former North Korean soldier to receive classified information. North Korea said he was colluding with the South Korean spy agency, which denied being involved with Kim.
He was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years of hard labor.
The two other detainees, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim, worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.
They were detained in 2017 and charged with “hostile acts” against the North Korean state.
Hinting at action
President Donald Trump tweeted about the possible release of the Americans on May 2, writing, “As everybody is aware, the past Administration has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail. Stay tuned!”
The most recent case of an American being released from North Korean custody was that of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who was arrested for stealing a propaganda poster. He suffered a mysterious brain injury while in North Korea and died six days after his release in June 2017.
The release of the remaining U.S. detainees had been expected to happen before the planned summit where Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
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