Finally, some good news for a change!
The Obama administration announced today that it has secured the release of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller, two Americans who were being held by North Korea. Both are on their way home to the United States on a U.S. aircraft with National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who secretly flew to North Korea to rescue them from the clutches of the regime.
Asked to comment on the release of Bae and Miller following an event introducing his nominee for Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama said, “Well, I think it’s a wonderful day for them and their families. And obviously, we’re very grateful for their safe return. And I appreciate Director Clapper doing a great job on what was obviously a challenging mission.”
Of the two men, Bae had been held the longest, having been imprisoned just over two years ago, in November of 2012. He was arrested while leading a tour group in North Korea, and later “convicted” of attempting to overthrow the regime.
Bae’s sister, who has pleaded with both North Korea and the U.S. government to help her brother, released a statement expressing her great relief.
The day we’ve been praying for has finally arrived! Early this morning, my family heard news from the US State Department that my brother was on a plane from DPRK (North Korea) with fellow detainee Matthew Todd Miller. They had left North Korean airspace, bound for America.
Words cannot adequately express our relief and gratitude that Kenneth is finally coming home! We have been waiting for and praying for this day for two years. This ordeal has been excruciating for the family, but we are filled with joy right now.
I am thrilled to imagine hugging my brother soon. He will not have to spend another day at a labor camp. He can now recover from this imprisonment and look forward to his wife, kids and rest of his life. Our Thanksgiving celebration this year will be one we will never forget.
We sincerely thank the United States government for all the hard work and dedication to securing my brother’s release, as well as the release of Matthew Todd Miller. We are also grateful to the DPRK government for allowing them to come home. We must also thank the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang for their tireless efforts to advocate for Kenneth during his prolonged imprisonment.
We are grateful to everyone who has supported my brother’s cause, including reporters and editors who cared enough to see this through. We are thankful for people here in Seattle and across the world who have continued to advocate and pray for Kenneth.
We believe that God is with people who endure hardship, and that He never leaves them. It is with great joy and with thankfulness to God to see Kenneth released. Our family could not have been sustained without the knowledge that Kenneth was in God’s care, when it seemed we were helpless to do anything.
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell hailed Bae’s release.
“It is overdue but much appreciated good news to hear of North Korea’s release of Washington resident Kenneth Bae. Puget Sound and Lynnwood, Washington, cannot wait to welcome him home,” she said in a press release.
“I want to thank the State Department, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and the Obama administration for securing the release of Mr. Bae.
“Kenneth Bae’s family remained resolved and focused for the last two years, constantly advocating for his release. His sister, Terri, and son, Jonathan, made numerous trips to Washington, D.C., and other locations advocating for Kenneth. They were steadfast. For all those involved, we give our heartfelt thanks for ending what could have been more than a decade of further detainment of Kenneth Bae. It will be good to have Kenneth on American soil.”
U.S. Senator Patty Murray agreed.
“I am so thrilled that Kenneth Bae has finally been released from North Korea along with Matthew Todd Miller. It has been a long two years for Kenneth’s family, but they never stopped fighting for him, and they never lost faith that this day would come. Kenneth’s family has spent the last two years doing everything they could to hasten this moment and see their brother, son, father, and husband once again.”
“Kenneth’s sister Terri, in particular, has made it her personal mission to bring her brother back and her powerful voice and hard work truly helped make this day possible. This is a great day for Kenneth’s family, friends, and all of us in Washington who have worked, hoped, and prayed for Kenneth’s return over the last two years.”
This region has been in need of something to celebrate, and the release of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller is unquestionably a joyous occasion. Thanksgiving will indeed be all the more wonderful this year because these Americans will be back home in the United States with their families.
Welcome home, Kenneth and Matthew!