Pompeo Secures Release of Americans Held by North Korea

Kim Dong-chul, Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song on TV news reports in Seoul, South Korea, this month. (Ahn Young-Joon/Associated Press)

(CN) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo secured the release of three American detainees from North Korea Wednesday, saying they “seem to be in good health.”

Kim Dong-chul, Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song were being held on charges of committing espionage or unidentified “hostile acts” against North Korea. Their families have maintained all three men were innocent of those charges.

President Donald Trump announced the detainee’s release on Twitter Wednesday morning, saying “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.”

Trump added that Pompeo had a “good meeting” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with whom the president will soon meet in a historic summit.

In a second Tweet, Trump said Pompeo and the detainees will be landing at Andrews Air Force Base at 2 a.m. Thursday. He says “I will be there to greet them. Very exciting!”

The release of the three men has been expected since last week, when Reuters reported that the detainees have been moved from a labor camp to a hotel outside the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. It has been reported that the hostage release was a U.S. condition to the upcoming talks between Trump and Kim.

In a statement, a spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in called the release “very positive for a successful North Korean-United States summit.”

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