Trump Welcomes Home North Korea Detainees, Says They Were Treated Well, VP Pence Suggests Otherwise

The three men arrived in the U.S. in the middle of the night.

Trump welcomes home north korea detainees
Alex Brandon / AP Images

The three men arrived in the U.S. in the middle of the night.

Donald Trump welcomed home three Americans who had been detained in North Korea, greeting the three men as they arrived in the wee hours of Thursday morning, Yahoo News is reporting. And while Trump claimed that the three detainees had been treated well, Vice President Mike Pence claimed otherwise.

At a Washington-area Air Force base, the three men – Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim – arrived after having been released from captivity in the secretive Asian regime. And while North Korea is known for torturing political prisoners, including foreigners, Trump claimed that the regime “was excellent to these three incredible people.”

However, speaking to ABC News later Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence suggested otherwise. He told the network that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told him that one of the detainees asked to be allowed outside the plane during a refueling stop in Anchorage. The man said that he “hadn’t seen daylight in a long time.”

If being kept out of daylight is the worst that happened to any, or all three, of the recently-freed detainees, then they fared far better than another American who was imprisoned in North Korea. Otto Warmbier, who was captive for 17 months, returned to the U.S. in a coma, dying a short time later. And while doctors found no evidence of torture, his family claimed that his harsh treatment in North Korea was what caused his death.

The three recently-released detainees, by comparison, were in good spirits, waving to the crowd and flashing peace signs.

All three men were imprisoned at roughly the same time – spring 2017 – and charged with various “crimes,” including espionage. All three pleaded guilty in trials that can most charitably be considered platitudes and sentenced to decades of hard labor, according to an April New York Times report.

As of this writing, there are now no Americans currently held in captivity in North Korea.

The release of the three detainees comes amid a marked change in relations between the two countries. After decades of hostility between the U.S. and the North, the two countries have been working towards ending the North’s nuclear program. And Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un are even planning a face-to-face summit at an as-yet-undetermined point in the future. Trump is optimistic.

“I really think [Kim Jong-Un] wants to do something.”