August 23rd, 2010
11:02 PM ET
4 years ago

Former President Carter to travel to North Korea to free American

Former President Jimmy Carter is expected travel to North Korea on Tuesday to free a detained American.
Former President Jimmy Carter is expected travel to North Korea on Tuesday to free a detained American.

Washington (CNN) – Former President Jimmy Carter is traveling to North Korea to free detained American Aijalon Mahli Gomes, a senior administration official and another source familiar with the trip said Monday.

Both sources described the trip as a "private humanitarian mission" to free Gomes, a 31 year-old Boston resident who was sentenced in April to eight years at a hard labor camp for illegally crossing North Korea's border with China and for an unspecified "hostile act."

While President Carter contacted the Obama administration about the trip, no officials will be traveling with him and he "will not be carrying any message on behalf of the United States government," the senior official said.

North Korean state media KCNA reported Gomes attempted suicide because he felt the US had not done enough to free him.

State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley would not comment Monday about whether an envoy was being considered to free Gomes, but said "“We are engaged with the North Koreans to try to encourage them to release him on humanitarian grounds.”

“We’re anxious to get Mr. Gomes home,” Crowley said.

The senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation said "President Carter fits that role perfectly."

"He is someone in a position to take action as a distinguished international figure," the official said.

Carter is expected to leave Tuesday.


Filed under: Jimmy Carter • North Korea
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Barry

    Hopefully he'll have better results there than he did in Iran but he really needs to stay out of the spot light right now. We are having a tough enough time this election without Jimmy giving the right more to beat us with. Putting Jimmy in the spot light will just have Fox News comparing Obama to him. With the way things have gone for us over the last 3 weeks we can't afford something like this. Jimmy Carter is more unpopular than George W. Bush.

    August 23, 2010 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  2. JM

    Yeah, I hope the US charges the guy with crimes against intelligence if the former President's trip is successful. What the heck was he doing?!

    August 23, 2010 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  3. Uncle Snerdly

    Poor Jimmy,he was much too peace loving for the swordmakers that made sure he couldnt get a second term but Loved the warmonger,Reagan,that used his credit card to fund everything the pentagon wanted to buy.

    August 23, 2010 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  4. Ken in NC

    This article says, "Gomes attempted suicide because he felt the US had not done enough to free him". Does Mr. Gomes not realize that he went on his own to China and to the border with China and North Korea? What gives people the idea that the United States Government can exercise it's authority over other nations to free it's citizens from foreign prisons? I really hope that Former President Carter can obtain this mans release, however, when you go into another country, you are subject to their laws and should not go with the idea that my government will have them release me if I am arrested and put into prison. He should have realized from the fact that others were captured and placed in prison in North Korea. Knowing that tells me this was not a very smart move on his part. When nations hostile to the US capture our citizens, they almost always use them as pawns to ganer something of value from our country in return for the release of our citizen. This man may have had reasons I'm not aware of for entering North Korea but he entered North Korea in just the manner people are crossing our southern borders right now and he was just as wrong as are the people crossing our border with Mexico. I wish President Carter luck and hope this man never tries to do this again and of course if he does then we will have someone waiting for him after he serves his sentence.

    August 23, 2010 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  5. Bob of Lompoc

    Reagan prostituted himself out to the Japanese within a month of leaving office and accepted $2 Million for a Japanese speaking engagement. Clearly, no person is worth $2 million for a speech. He was taking the payoff for eight years keepoing Unions off the backs of Japanese cara maklers here in the U. S. A. Bush 43 is still drunk. The man Carter – he has class and shows the World how a former President should behave. He makes me proud to be an American. Right on Mr. President Carter!

    August 24, 2010 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  6. jules sand-perkins

    Do we really have to keep hearing from President Carter?
    Those who did not experience his presidency do not know how joyful most Americans were at his departure.
    Only President Obama has been a greater disappointment.

    August 24, 2010 12:38 am at 12:38 am |