Upping the Ransom Ante

Monday, January 20, 2014
Today's news out of North Korea makes it indisputable that the Kim and Castro regimes counsel each other on their hostage-taking tactics.

As we've noted before, the exactitude of scenarios is really quite striking.

We wonder whether U.S. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will now lobby the Obama Administration to give the Kim regime any ransom (concession) it wants -- or whether he reserves such deference for Castro's regime?

From today's AP:

An American missionary who has been jailed in North Korea for more than a year appeared before reporters Monday and appealed to the U.S. government to do its best to secure his release.

The missionary, Kenneth Bae, made the comments at what he called a press conference held at his own request. He was under guard during the appearance. It is not unusual for prisoners in North Korea to say after their release that they spoke in similar situations under duress.

Wearing a gray cap and inmate's uniform with the number 103 on his chest, Bae spoke in Korean during the brief appearance, which was attended by The Associated Press and a few other foreign media in Pyongyang.

"I believe that my problem can be solved by close cooperation and agreement between the American government and the government of this country," he said.

Bae, the longest-serving American detainee in North Korea in recent years, expressed hope that the U.S. government will do its best to secure his release. He said he has not been treated badly in confinement.

From last month's AP:

An American man who is marking four years in prison in Cuba has written a letter to President Barack Obama asking the president to get personally involved in securing his release.

Alan Gross was arrested four years ago Tuesday while working covertly in the Communist-run country to set up Internet access for the island's small Jewish community, access that bypassed local restrictions. At the time, he was working as a subcontractor for the U.S. government's U.S. Agency for International Development, which works to promote democracy on the island.

"It is clear to me, Mr. President, that only with your personal involvement can my release be secured," Gross wrote in a letter made public through a spokeswoman.

"With the utmost respect, Mr. President, I fear that my government - the very government I was serving when I began this nightmare - has abandoned me. Officials in your administration have expressed sympathy and called for my unconditional release, and I very much appreciate that. But it has not brought me home," he wrote.