White Housei claim that 3 Americans held by N. Korea will be free today - Full Gist News

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Thursday, 3 May 2018

White Housei claim that 3 Americans held by N. Korea will be free today




The White House on Thursday gently walked back but did not dismiss a comment by Rudy Giuliani that the three Americans held in a North Korean prison would be released sometime today.

“We got (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un impressed enough to be releasing three prisoners today,” the former New York mayor and current member of President Trump's legal team told Fox & Friends early Thursday.
President Trump, at a National Day of Prayer event at the White House a short time later, did not mention Korea directly but also was encouraging, saying  "you'll see some very good announcements very shortly." 



Still later, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was slightly less optimistic, saying she could not "confirm the validity of the reports" that a release was imminent.

"We certainly would see this as a sign of good will if North Korea were to release the three Americans ahead of discussions between President Trump and President Kim Jong Un," Sanders said.

White Housei claim that 3 Americans held by N. Korea will be free today

The three detainees had been relocated within the secretive nation and were getting medical treatment ahead of the planned release, according to multiple media reports.

Kim Dong-Chul, 64, of Fairfax, Va., was arrested in October 2015 and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor in April 2016 on charges of spying and other offenses. Tony Kim, 59, was detained at the Pyongyang airport in April 2017 as he was set to depart the country and subsequently accused of "hostile acts." Kim Hak-Song, 55, was accused of "hostile acts" in May 2017.

The buildup from the White House that a release was imminent began late Wednesday when  Trump made reference to the three Americans in a tweet.

"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," Trump tweeted. "Stay tuned!"

If the release occurs,Trump deserves high praise for his efforts, said Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest think tank — and for averting a military conflict that seemed possible a few months ago. But Kazianis also warned that Trump should "not rush to crush on a regime that has over 100,000 people in political prison camps."

"We can’t ever forget who are dealing with," Kazianis told USA TODAY. "All the pretty photo ops in the world can’t cover up the real nature of this regime."

Talk of the releases comes as tensions have eased between the U.S. and North Korea. A meeting between Kim and Trump is in the works, and Trump has said details could be released within days.

The two leaders also have toned down their sharp rhetoric. Trump, who has referred to Kim in the past as "little rocket man," suggested last week that Kim is "very honorable." Kim in turn has refrained from characterizing Trump as "a frightened dog" and a "gangster fond of playing with fire," terms he has previously used to describe the president.

Last week, at a historic summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Kim pledged to shut down his nuclear testing site within weeks.

Moon and Kim also agreed to work on a plan to formally end the Korean War that was ended under a temporary armistice in 1953. North Korea's leader has said a formal end to the hostilities, along with a pledge from the U.S. not to attack his nation, would essentially eliminate Pyongyang's need for a nuclear arsenal.

Last year, U.S. college student Otto Warmbier died after being imprisoned in North Korea. He was jailed after trying to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel in the country. When he was released in June back to his family, he was in a coma and unresponsive.

The case of Wambier is a good reminder that the U.S. should be leery of Kim's promises, Kazianis said.

"The nature of this vile regime that lies, cheats and steals whatever it wants to survive, along with a human rights rap sheet filled with millions of innocent dead men, women and children serves as the ultimate warning to trust nothing that comes of Kim’s mouth," Kazianis said.



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