American Hostages

AD: American Hostages in Iran: The Conduct of a Crisis (A Council on Foreign Relations Book)

Immediately after President Trump took office, he told his cabinet members to prioritize bringing home Americans who’ve been wrongfully detained or held hostage in foreign countries.

*UPDATE: Trump has helped secure the release at least 20 Americans.

3/2/17: Sabrina De Sousa, a former CIA agent was set to be extradited from Portugal to Italy over the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric before an “extraordinary” effort by the Trump administration back in March won her a last-minute reprieve.

4/20/17: The Trump administration negotiated the release of a US citizen, Aya Hijazi, who was held in an Egyptian prison for three years. President Barack Obama attempted to negotiate their release with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi; however, the chilled relationship between the two countries complicated the talks.

​4/29/17: Sandy Phan-Gillis an American businesswoman from Houston, held for two years in Chinese custody for spying charges, was released and “deported” back to the United States after Trump's meeting with China President Xi.

6/13/17: The Trump administration negotiated the release of American college student Otto Warmbier from North Korea. ​Negotiations started within the first two months of Trump's Presidency in Norway, Sweden. No money was paid or prisoners swaped to North Korea. The father of Otto Warmbier criticized the previous President (Obama) while praising Trump for the release of his son. Sadly Otto Warmbier was returned from North Korea in a vegetative state and eventually died. Otto Warmbier was an American university student who, while visiting North Korea as a tourist in January 2016, was arrested and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with hard labor after being convicted for attempted theft of a propaganda poster from his hotel. He spent a year as hostage under the Obama administration. 

​10/24/17: Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle were kidnapped in 2012 by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network while backpacking into Afghanistan. Held by the terror group for five years, the couple had three children while in captivity before being rescued. President Trump authorized U.S. diplomats and military officials give to Pakistan an ultimatum: either they rescue the family or the U.S. would carry out the operation themselves. Pakistani forces eventually stopped a car suspected of carrying the family and found Coleman, Boyle and the children stuffed in the trunk.

11/15/17: Three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China expressed thanks to President Donald Trump for negotiating their release. They were facing up to 10 years in jail time. The players, who had been in China for a basketball game sponsored by a Chinese retail giant, were detained in their hotel by police on suspicion of shoplifting.

​5/2/18: President Trump convinced North Korea to release three American prisoners held in labor camps. This came off the heels of Trump successfully pressuring North Korea to end the Korean War and to give up it's nuclear weapons program.

​5/26/18: Trump announces that Venezuela has released American missionary hostage Josh Holt. His mother personally thanked President Trump.

7/25/18: American pastor was released from jail and placed in house arrest in Turkey after pressure from President Trump. Trump was still not satisfied and went ahead with sanctions against Turkey until they released him.

8/11/18:  President Trump appointment Robert C. O'Brien to the position of Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA). 

10/12/18:  Trump successfully pressured Turkey to release of the American pastor Andrew Brunson, ending his 24-month detention and allowing him to fly home.

2/25/19: Trump announces recovery of US citizen held hostage in Yemen.  The president announced on Twitter that Danny Burch "has been recovered and reunited with his wife and children."