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Report: North Korea to Release American Detainees ahead of Kim-Trump Meeting

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un makes a statement regarding President Trump’s speech at the U.N. general assembly, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 22, 2017. (KCNA via Reuters)

Three American citizens detained in a North Korean prison camp for years have reportedly been transferred to a hospital in Pyongyang ahead of their likely release from the country, according to a South Korean activist with contacts in the North who spoke to Agence France-Presse.

U.S. officials have long advocated for the release of  Kim Hak-song, Kim Sang-duk and Kim Dong-chul, and then-CIA director Mike Pompeo, who has since been confirmed as Secretary of State, discussed their release when he met with Kim last month, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The prisoners “are staying in a hotel on the outskirts of Pyongyang,” Choi Sung-ryong, the South Korean activist, told AFP. He added that though they are being held separately, they are “going on tours, receiving medical treatment, and eating good food.”

The news comes ahead of a historic face-to-face meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump, which is set to take place in the coming weeks.

The last American released from North Korean detention, Otto Warmbier, died from injuries he sustained while in prison shortly after arriving home. North Korean authorities claim the 22 year-old University of Virginia student slipped into a coma after contracting botulism, but doctors found that the coma was induced by a severe beating. Warmbier’s parents announced that they are suing the North Korean government for wrongful death last week.

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