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. 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.

    We could have sent Scooby Doo and that kid would still be coming home. Carter did nothing, it was already a done deal before he even went over there.

    August 26, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mfel

      Carter was not a bad president, he was just president during very dificult times. The speech he gave from the white house while in office about our greed and over indulgence was very very powerful, maybe the greatest presidential speech ever given.
      The man was literally a genius, his iq is over 160. He just inherited a country in complete turmoil that was beyond saving, unless you were Regan and established a system of government that favors only large corporations and the very, very wealthy.
      The problems we have today all began with Regan. He turned this country into a failing corporation controlled by bankers. He single handedly destroyed the middle class and robbed this country of the bright future it should have had.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • me

      Speaking of "done deals", it was Reagan's own campaign advisors who made a deal with the Iran to prevent release of our American hostages until after the election - hence his landslide.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |


    August 26, 2010 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joseph Krazinsky


    August 26, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Goner

    Strange trend in late-Empire America: Ex-presidents going to oddball Asian regimes to rescue wayward reporters and slightly cracked ex-English teachers. What about the Bushies? They bought a chunk of Paraguay, but what does it mean?

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

      Paraguay... Nah, like Lex Luthor, "I'm partial to beach front propriety: Australia!"
      Now that, I'd back up!

      August 27, 2010 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. jason

    Great job Mr. Carter Thank you for your help

    August 27, 2010 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. How Sad

    I think none of you are right in how you've acted towards each other on here. it's sad to see how you all treat each other in your words and comments, what's Nobel in that?

    August 27, 2010 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dee

    Lucky break. Next time don't wander into North Korea and expect anything but a labor camp.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jimini Cricket

    who would want to go to that hell hole anyway?

    August 27, 2010 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. cdma


    August 27, 2010 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. James

    what is it about Jimmy Carter. Does he have some type of cat nip for hostage takers. This guy unbelievably effective in these cases. Just goes to show that a failure is not always a failure. While he didn't get the Iranian hostages free during his presidency, he certainly developed a uniquely gifted skill.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  11. West Coast

    What, Jimmy couldn't stay? Darn.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. mj2

    If you are going to post a comment, make sure you know how to spell. Dilicate? Is that a diplomatic term unknown to the rest of us, maybe a korean word? Or, maybe, just maybe, you meant delicate?

    August 27, 2010 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  13. BobWhoLikesBeef

    Course no ex. Republican Presidents came. Even old Kim Jong fears their high levels of stupidity.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. Steve

    Jimmy Carter has done so much good since he left office, and it's rarely noticed...the carter center in georgia is outstanding....and his book on Israel/Palestine was outstanding. Glad he helped this guy out.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. Gary D.

    Why didn't John McCain or Sara "You betcha" Palin go over and get this guy? They know it all and are full of talk.

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