North Korea has released three Americans it had been holding prisoner. The men are flying back to the United States with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, following his short trip to North Korea.
Who are the Americans being held?
Kim Dong Chul. Kim Hak-song, and Kim Sang-duk are American citizens who had been held prisoner by the North Korean regime. Kim Dong Chul is an American pastor who was born in South Korea and has been detained in North Korea since 2015. He was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years hard labor.
The other two prisoners were detained in 2017 on suspicion that they were perpetrating “hostile acts” while they worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a school which is run by an American Christian and funded by Christian charities.
Pompeo had reportedly discussed the release of these prisoners with the North Korean government in April, when he secretly traveled to North Korea before his Senate confirmation. At the time he was CIA director.
CNN reported March 18 that representatives from Sweden were working to negotiate with North Korea for the release of the three prisoners on behalf of the United States.
On May 3, President Donald Trump indicated that his administration had made some progress in these negotiations when he tweeted: "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!"
Trump tweeted Wednesday that the men finally been released and were on their way home, and that he planned greet them when they arrived with Pompeo.