“There is a good chance that the three long-time hostages in North Korea will be released over the next several days,” Giuliani, a former New York mayor who recently joined President Donald Trump’s legal team, was quoted as saying in a speech at the Iran Freedom Convention in Washington, D.C.
On Thursday, he indicated that they may be released that day in an interview with Fox News. “We got Kim Jong-un impressed enough to be releasing three prisoners today,” he said.
The detainee issue is widely expected to be resolved ahead of a planned meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The U.S. citizens — Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul — have been held in the North on charges of espionage or “hostile acts” against the regime.
According to a South Korean activist who cited a Pyongyang resident, the three were moved from a labor camp to a hotel near Pyongyang in early April by order of superior authorities.
Trump hinted at the possibility of their release on Wednesday, tweeting, “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. Stay tuned!”
Trump and Kim are expected to meet by early June to discuss the denuclearization of the regime. An announcement on the date and location will likely come within days, the U.S. president has said.
North Korea has a track record of using hostages to force the United States to open bilateral talks.
Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter traveled to Pyongyang after they left office to win the release of American detainees.
In the latest case, then-U.S. nuclear envoy Joseph Yun went to Pyongyang in June to bring home Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was detained for allegedly removing a political poster from a hotel in Pyongyang.
Warmbier was found to be in a coma and died shortly after returning to the U.S. (Yonhap)