August 26th, 2010
10:21 PM ET

Carter returning from North Korea with detained American

Gomes, seen here attending a rally in South Korea in January, was pardoned by North Korea, the Carter Center says.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is leaving North Korea with a U.S. citizen who was imprisoned in the communist country after entering it illegally in January, according to the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes, 31, of Boston, Massachusetts, was imprisoned in January and later sentenced to eight years of hard labor with a fine of about $600,000 for the crime of illegal entry into North Korea.

"At the request of President Carter, and for humanitarian purposes, Mr. Gomes was granted amnesty by the chairman of the National Defense Commission, Kim Jong-Il," the Carter Center said in a statement.

Carter arrived in North Korea on Wednesday to negotiate Gomes' release. Carter traveled in his capacity as a private citizen, senior administration officials told CNN earlier. They added Carter had contacted the administration of President Barack Obama about the mission.

Two American journalists - Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who had crossed the border into North Korea in March 2009 and were arrested and sentenced to 12 years hard labor - were released in August after an intervention by former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

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Filed under: North Korea
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. Mr Jingle

    Ever notice that it's always someone else who successfully negotiates these things besides Obama? He's supposed be the "gift to the world."

    August 26, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • dsoler

      Don't be angry -just to be angry. Research how these dilicate diplomacy situations work.

      August 26, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dianne

      Don't be angry -just to be angry. Research how these dilicate diplomacy situations work. Thank you 'dsoler'...well spoken.

      August 26, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Savvy

      you are an idiot if you dont think he sent Carter over there, just like he sent Bill to get the others

      August 26, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • A98CER

      The reason it is always someone else and not the President is that we have no diplomatic relations with North Korea. For the current President to deal with this gives the North Koreans legitimacy, which they are after.

      August 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Annetally

      Seriously Jingle? If our president had negotiated this deal you'd be complaining that he wasn't paying enough attention to whatever your list of complaints may be. At least be honest, you'd be more credible.

      August 26, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mrs Jingle

      "Mr Jingle", why dont you go and get an education you crack of a head, or go back to the trailer park where all your ancestors love to call home, and when you're at it, get some trash to go sleep on son.....and leave the president alone.

      August 26, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gadflie

      Presidents don't negotiate on things like this. Ever. Any questions? Glad I could help alleviate your ignorance.

      August 26, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • whatnext

      "Always" somebody besides Obama? Obama's been in office 19 months. Carter, Bill Clinton, former senator George Mitchell, etc. have been working on things like this for years. Of course, I'm sure you've been working on remarks based on nothing more than hate and stupidity for years, too.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Irony, The State Department can get you killed, can ok an Op plan for one county to invade another (Iraq and Kuwait) yet they fail at getting citizens who have been arrested by "enemy states". Either get duel citizenship in Canada, or stay the hell out of enemy states.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gomes

      You are a moron. Educate yourself

      August 26, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Noble9

      If you'll recall, President Carter failed at retrieving a lot more hostages during his presidency. They waited until the day Reagan was sworn in to let them go just to spite him.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • MikeR

      I am so taken with the quality of responses to Mr. Jingle-knucklehead – every one of the responses to his post is first-rate!

      August 26, 2010 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Bentley

      Yes, of course we notice this. And it makes perfect sense. First, a siting US President could not ever accomplish this bcause it would not be face saving for the other party and would like a concession to the US. Second, while Mr. Carter has nothing better to do than fly around the world to places like North Korea, Mr. Obama actually has a country to run. And third, if you believe all of these types of incidents are not highly orchestrated with government behind the scenes, you would be naive.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don Belmont

      And where were your former Presidents (Bush 1 and 2)? Playing golf no doubt. President Jimmy Carter has success and the only thing you can do is twist it into another reason to dis the President of the United States. When obviously he didn't need to be the front man on this. And we both know that if he had then you'd have criticized him wasting his precious time dealing with something that could be handled better quietly.

      My applause for President Jimmy Carter. A most honorable and decent man. Congratulations and welcome home Mr. Gomes.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • cheelan

      Notice it was never Bush who got someone out either. Obama isn't the only one who hasn't done this. North Korea is always the same – an older, respected diplomat who is no longer in office has to do it. The only reason to pick on Obama is because you don't understand this.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Thank you President Carter again for showing your humanitarianism and class. For those who are bad mouthing President Obama in this blog – you show your ignorance as usual. I don't recall the last time a former Republican President has done anything related to diplomacy or helped any U.S. Citizens abroad. What do all of the former Republican Presidents do once they've left office?

      August 27, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • O

      Does the word TEAM - mean anything to you?

      TEAM = U & I as American citizens . . . .

      Collective working as One Unit!

      President Carter,

      . . . as a member of the American team -- Thank you.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • robert

      If a current politician goes over it becomes a propaganda coup for NK

      August 27, 2010 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • VegasRage

      How many did Bush 43 negotiate with N Korea? OH that's right, none.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      It is called "getting work done through other people and it is what all good leaders do!!!

      August 27, 2010 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
    • goble goble

      I think all of you are too hard on Mr Jimgle.
      He's doing his best with what he's got. It's not fair to expect an intelligent, well thought out, educated answer from him. He's literate. We have to give him that.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Jesse

      If we sent the President to a hostile country, what do you think would happen. He is America's most valuable person right now

      August 27, 2010 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. LoL

    LoL another old president to save the day.

    August 26, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mrs Jingle

    "Mr Jingle", why dont you go and get an education you crack of a head, or go back to the trailer park where all your ancestors love to call home, and when you're at it, get some trash to go sleep on son.

    August 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Todd Saed

    This is the blueprint for world peace,
    caring people, day to day heroes of peace
    Carter does Habitats for Humanity too,
    how many know of this heroic endeavor,
    housing for the homeless, what could be more
    humane and beautiful.

    August 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barbara

      Amen, brother. How people have underestimated Carter and all his endeavors truly amazes me. A real intelligent man with good intentions always. A true renaissance man!

      August 26, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Steve

    The North Korean government is worthless.

    August 26, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramesh Manghirmalani

      Steve: what are you trying to say- any thing important or new

      August 26, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      All Carter, or Clinton, have to do is show a little respect. Funny how that works almost every time. Of course, as noted by others here, a certain amount of bravery helps too. Carter is the best ex-president ever.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ms. K

    Mr. Jungle, if you knew how government worked, you wouldn't be so quick to bash Obama. A Republican would have done the same thing...nothing. Why? Because the U.S. doesn't negotiate with terrorist/dictatorships. If they did, the N. Korean's would use it in propaganda. These things are always handled by former government leaders. The N. Korean's won't deal with a regular old citizen, but if they can't get the President, they'll take the next closest thing...such as a former President.

    August 26, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • John K. Yang

      Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and that U.S. teacher Aijalon Mahli Gomes now have North Korean Customs visitor stamps in their U.S. Passports. That's sort of unique. How can I receive a D.P.R.K. Customs stamp in my U.S. Passport? I thought it was illegal for U.S. Citizens to visit North Korea? Lets see, list of rare customs stamps to get in my U.S. Passport; Cuba and The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea). It would probably never happen because I do not intend to ever visit those aforementioned countries in my life but, it would be interesting. If I did, I would probably have U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Military Intelligence debriefing me when I returned into the U.S.

      September 14, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chuck

    Mr. Jingle: Perhaps you never paid attention before. This is the way it usually happens genius. Former presidents and those out of power deign to visit N Korea; sitting presidents don't reward N Korea's outlaw behavior with visits. – C.

    August 26, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nettemy

    Note of advise. Dont bother saving people stupid who was stupid stupid enough to endanger himself and dragged others with him. Do it at your own risk. Screw up and settle your own mess!!

    August 26, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Stupid much?

      August 26, 2010 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Magic Pedant

      "Advice," not "advise." One is a noun; the other a verb.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Johan S

      It's only stupid if you consider the lives of the North Korean civilians he was trying to help as useless.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  9. Patrick Keeler

    Amazingly enough, there are actually some good comments and not just a bunch of hoohaa! I agree that the President of the US should NOT deal directly with Kim Jong Il, he would only use it as propaganda. Carter is a Nobel human being and is a much better diplomat and private citizen than he was a President. Keep up the good work Mr. Carter!

    August 26, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ramesh Manghirmalani

    President J Carter; I have always admired you and hold great respect for you, You have done fantastic job.

    August 26, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Jimmy Carter was one of the worst presidents this country has ever seen. Hell when he went against Reagan (one of the greatest presidents this country has ever seen) even Democrats were voting for Reagan, remember that landslide victory? Carter is a race baiter and a fool. Anyone who thinks that this kids release wasnt already a done deal BEFORE Carter even went over there is an idiot. Its all just for show. Carter is still trying to have some kind of a legacy before he dies since his preidency was an utter disaster.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • asrael

      On Planet Dan, ranting is the national pastime...

      August 27, 2010 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Wrong... Bush is the worst president in history, wars, recession, envoronment, corruption... hands down!!!

      August 27, 2010 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  11. diana h. nielsen

    I wonder what Carter promised to get this guy home. Carter is not an elected official. Why is he there in the first place?

    August 26, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      If you bothered to read the article you would see where it says he went as a private citizen.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • LMD

      Read the article. And the short answer is that he is a humanitarian by nature. Long before his presidency and long after this man has worked hard to improve the human condition.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. brandon Martinez

    Why can't we do that with our soilders like the sailors?

    August 26, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Brandon, it would be rather stupid to start a third war when we are having trouble with the first two, and having problems paying for the first two. I can tell you never wore a uniform, our veterans never suggest military intervention in passing. To expect men and women to go kill and die for one who crossed a boarder illegally is so incredibly naive, it's almost unconceivable that you FOLLOW the news.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CarlosSutter

    Way to go Jimmy! Now, who is going to get those kids who were captured in Iran? In the meantime, quit going near these places, Jeez! They will use you as a bargaining chip for whatever they can get, even if it is just to embarrass the current sitting president.

    August 26, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Noble9

      Jimmy Carter has a bad track record with hostages in Iran. Talk about a fiasco.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Everyone always blames the Iranian Revolution and the Iran Hostage Crisis on Carter. Have any of you pundits ever read up on the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, and its successors? Try it. And President Carter may have taken most of the blame for the failed rescue attempt, but that's only because he was CIC and a class act. Fact is, he wasn't on that freaking mission - elite military forces were. If they failed, I think maybe it was because the mission was fairly difficult.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mike Papadopoulos

    Nobody is asking the question: Why are Democrats so well connected with these communist North Korean leaders. Remember Bill Clinton rescuing those 2 americans from North Korea? Could it be that they are alligned with communist beliefs. Republicans would never be allowed anywhere near North Korea.

    August 26, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • LMD

      Maybe it's because there is no republican who is willing to be diplomatic,for the sake of a fellow American

      August 26, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      It's because Repubs won't even try to do anything but say "let's go shoot everybody". The people getting results are willing to actually negotiate to accomplish an objective. What a concept!

      August 26, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      Hahaha! Please tell me you're NOT serious! Oh, but I guess you are. I dare you to take the time to LEARN how these negotiations come about, instead of making blantantly STUPID, political remarks which bear no resemblance to actual truth.. and you might learn something, moron.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • watchbobos

      Remember was Nixon who open the doors of China/Usa diplomacy, maybe you believe Nixon was a democrat?

      August 26, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • waynedew

      Democrats well connected?

      Let's see biuggest beneficiary of Iran hostage crisis was Ronnie Reagan who stayed chummy with Iran–remember his administratyion selloing arms to Iran? Even Ronnie had to finally admit it was true. So Iran helps Ronnie get elected he pays them back.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
    • adam

      Mr papadopolus. You are a disgrace to your greek heritage

      August 27, 2010 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
    • asrael

      Many thanks, Mike, for the conspiracy alert; just what the paranoia buffs need...

      August 27, 2010 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
    • vcs3

      "Republicans would never be allowed anywhere near North Korea" - Bush II can't leave American airspace for fear of getting arrested and hauled off to The Hauge. The same is probably true of his father.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cloward_Piven

    Surely N. Korea can do a better deal, was hoping that they would keep carter and we would have to give up Obama as our last stand to get them back.

    August 26, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
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