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Detained Americans Fast Facts

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Here’s a look at some recent cases of foreign governments detaining US citizens. For information about missing Americans, see Robert Levinson Fast Facts or POW/MIA in Iraq and Afghanistan Fast Facts.

Currently Detained Americans


Kai Li
September 2016 – Kai Li, a naturalised US citizen born in China, is detained while visiting relatives in Shanghai.

July 2018 – He is sentenced to ten years in prison for espionage following a secret trial held in August 2017.


Baquer and Siamak Namazi
October 2015 – Siamak Namazi, a Dubai-based businessman with dual US and Iranian citizenship, is detained while visiting relatives in Tehran.

February 2016 – Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF official and father of Siamak Namazi, is also detained, his wife Effie Namazi says on Facebook. He is an Iranian-American.

October 2016 – The men are sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $4.8 million, according to Iran’s official news channel IRINN. Iran officials say five people were convicted and sentenced for “cooperating with Iran’s enemies,” a government euphemism that usually implies cooperating with the United States.

August 2017 – An Iranian appeals court upholds the convictions.

January 28, 2018 – Baquer Namazi is granted a four-day leave by the Iranian government, after being discharged from an Iranian hospital. Namazi’s family say the 81-year-old was rushed to the hospital on January 15 after a severe drop in his blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and serious depletion of energy. This was the fourth time Namazi had been transferred to a hospital in the last year. He underwent emergency heart surgery to install a pacemaker in September.

August 2018 – Baquer Namazi’s lawyer says Namazi has been on medical furlough “for a considerable length of time,” according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

Karan Vafadari
December 2016 – Vafadari’s family announces that Karan Vafadari and his wife, Afarin Niasari, were detained at Tehran airport in July. Vafadari, an Iranian-American, and Niasari, a green-card holder, ran an art gallery in Tehran.

March 2017 – New charges of “attempting to overthrow the Islamic Republic and recruiting spies through foreign embassies” are brought against Vafadari and Niasari.

January 2018 – Vafadari is sentenced to 27 years in prison. Niasari is sentenced to 16 years.

July 2018 – Vafadari and Niasari are reportedly released from prison on bail while they await their appeals court rulings.


Trevor Reed
2019 – While visiting a longtime girlfriend, Trevor Reed is taken into custody after a night of heavy drinking according to state-run news agency TASS and Reed’s family. Police tell state-run news agency RIA-Novosti that Reed was involved in an altercation with two women and a police unit that arrived at the scene following complaints of a disturbance. Police allege Reed resisted arrest, attacked the driver, hit another policeman, caused the car to swerve by grabbing the wheel and created a hazardous situation on the road, RIA stated.

July 30, 2020 – Reed is sentenced to nine years in prison for endangering “life and health” of Russian police officers.

February 2, 2021 – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken talks with Reed’s family and the loved ones of other Americans held hostage or unlawfully detained abroad.

April 1, 2021 – The parents of Reed reveal that their son served as a Marine presidential guard under the Obama administration — a fact they believe led Russia to target him.

Paul Whelan
December 28, 2018 – Whelan, from Novi, Michigan, a retired Marine and corporate security director, is arrested on accusations of spying. His family says he was in Moscow to attend a wedding.

January 3, 2019 – His lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, tells CNN Whalen has been formally charged with espionage.

January 22, 2019 – At his pretrial hearing, Whelan is denied bail. Whelan’s attorney Zherebenkov tells CNN that Whelan was found in possession of classified material when he was arrested in Moscow.

August 23, 2019 – The US Embassy in Moscow formally requests “immediate” consular access to Whelan over his allegations that he has been injured while in custody. Whelan made the complaint during a court hearing at Moscow’s Lefortovo court, during which the judge overseeing the case extended Whelan’s detention until October 29.

June 15, 2020 – Whelan is convicted of espionage and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Saudi Arabia

Walid Fitaihi
November 2017 – Dual US-Saudi citizen Dr. Fitaihi is detained at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh along with other prominent Saudis, according to his lawyer Howard Cooper. Fitaihi is then transferred to prison.

July 2019 – Fitaihi is released on bond.

Airan Berry and Luke Denman

May 4, 2020 – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says two American “mercenaries” have been apprehended after a failed coup attempt to capture and remove him. Madura identifies the captured Americans as Luke Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41. On state television, Maduro brandished what he claimed were the US passports and driver’s licenses of the two men, along with what he said were their ID cards for Silvercorp, a Florida-based security services company.

May 5, 2020 – Denman, one of two US citizens detained by Venezuelan security forces, appears on Venezuelan state TV. Denman is shown looking directly at the camera recounting his role in “helping Venezuelans take back control of their country.”

May 9, 2020 – After bringing charges of terrorism, weapons trafficking and criminal association, Berry and Denman make their first court appearance via WhatsApp from Caracas.

Formerly Detained Americans


Alan Gross
December 2009 – Alan Gross is jailed while working as a subcontractor on a US Agency for International Development project aimed at spreading democracy. His actions are deemed illegal by Cuban authorities. He is accused of trying to set up illegal internet connections on the island. Gross says he was trying to help connect the Jewish community to the internet and was not a threat to the government.

August 2010 – While on a trade mission in Cuba, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson presses Cuba to free Gross.

March 12, 2011 – Gross is found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes against the Cuban state.

March 30, 2011 – Former US President Jimmy Carter visits Cuba and tries to secure Gross’ release on humanitarian grounds, arguing that Gross’ mother and daughter are battling cancer. He is unsuccessful.

September 7-14, 2011 – Richardson visits Cuba on a private mission to win the release of Gross. He is unsuccessful.

February 18-20, 2013 – A US congressional delegation, led by Senator Patrick Leahy, visits Cuba and meets with Raul Castro in an effort to free Gross. They are unsuccessful.

April 11, 2014 – Ends a hunger strike that he launched the previous week in an effort to get the United States and Cuba to resolve his case.

November 2014 – US Senators Jeff Flake and Tom Udall travel to Cuba and meet with Gross.

December 17, 2014 – Gross is released as part of a deal with Cuba that paves the way for a major overhaul in US policy toward the island.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Darryl Lewis
April 24, 2016 – Darryl Lewis, a security adviser working in Katanga, is taken into custody and accused of mercenary activities. According to the US Embassy in Kinshasa, he was not armed and the allegations against him are false. He is released on June 8, 2016.


16 American NGO Employees
December 2011 – Egyptian authorities carry out 17 raids on the offices of 10 nongovernmental organizations. The Egyptian general prosecutor’s office claims the raids were part of an investigation into allegations the groups had received illegal foreign financing and were operating without a proper license.

February 2, 2012 – In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, 41 members of Congress urge the administration to withhold further aid to Egypt until the country’s leadership lets the offices of those organizations reopen and returns seized property.

February 5, 2012 – Forty-three people, including 19 Americans, face prosecution in an Egyptian criminal court on charges of illegal foreign funding as part of an ongoing crackdown on NGOs. Among the American defendants is Sam LaHood, International Republican Institute country director and the son of US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

February 15, 2012 – The US State Department confirms there are 16 Americans being held, not 19 as the Egyptian government announced.

February 20, 2012 – South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Arizona Senator John McCain meet with top Egyptian military and political leaders in Cairo. In an interview with CNN, Senator Graham says that he is optimistic for a positive resolution in the near future.

March 1, 2012 – Some of the 43 detainees including American, Norwegian, German, Serbian and Palestinian activists leave Cairo after each post two-million Egyptian pounds bail.

April 10, 2012 – Trial is adjourned.

April 20, 2012 – CNN is told Egyptian officials have filed global arrest notices with Interpol for some of the Americans involved in the NGO trial.

June 4, 2013 – An Egyptian court sentences the NGO workers: 27 workers in absentia to five-year sentences, 11 to one-year suspended jail sentences, and five others to two-year sentences that were not suspended, according to state-run newspaper Al Ahram. Only one American has remained in Egypt to fight the charges, but he also left after the court announced his conviction.


Saeed Abedini
September 26, 2012 – According to the American Center for Law and Justice, Saeed Abedini, an American Christian pastor who was born in Iran and lives in Idaho, is detained in Iran. The group says that Abedini’s charges stem from his conversion to Christianity from Islam 13 years ago and his activities with home churches in Iran.

January 2013 – Abedini is sentenced to eight years in prison, on charges of attempting to undermine the Iranian government.

January 16, 2016 – Iran releases four US prisoners including Abedini, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, and Jason Rezaian, in exchange for clemency of seven Iranians imprisoned in the United States for sanctions violations.

Amir Mirzaei Hekmati
August 2011 – Amir Mirzaei Hekmati travels to Iran to visit relatives and gets detained by authorities, according to his family. His arrest isn’t made public for months.

December 17, 2011 – Iran’s Intelligence Ministry claims to have arrested an Iranian-American working as a CIA agent, according to state-run Press TV.

December 18, 2011 – Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency broadcasts a video in which a young man says his name is Hekmati, and that he joined the US Marine Corps and worked with Iraqi officers.

December 19, 2011 – The US State Department confirms the identity of the man detained in Iran and calls for his immediate release.

December 20, 2011 – Hekmati’s family says that he was arrested in August while visiting relatives in Iran. The family asserts that they remained quiet about the arrest at the urging of Iranian officials who promised his release.

December 27, 2011 – Hekmati’s trial begins in Iran. Prosecutors accuse Hekmati of entering Iran with the intention of infiltrating the country’s intelligence system in order to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorist activities, according to the Fars news agency.

January 9, 2012 – An Iranian news agency reports that Hekmati is convicted of “working for an enemy country,” as well as membership in the CIA and “efforts to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorism.” He is sentenced to death.

End of January 2012 – Behnaz Hekmati, Hekmati’s mother, travels to Iran alone and sees her son, according to sources close to the family.

March 5, 2012 – An Iranian court dismisses a lower court’s death sentence for Hekmati and orders a retrial. He remains in prison.

September 2013 – In a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry, Hekmati says that his confession was obtained under duress.

April 11, 2014 – Hekmati’s sister tells CNN that Hekmati has been convicted in Iran by a secret court of “practical collaboration with the US government” and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

January 16, 2016 – Iran releases four US prisoners including Hekmati, Abedini, and Jason Rezaian, in exchange for clemency of seven Iranians indicted or imprisoned in the United States for sanctions violations.

Jason Rezaian
July 24, 2014 – The Washington Post reports that its Tehran correspondent and Bureau Chief Jason Rezaian, his wife Yeganeh Salehi and two freelance journalists were detained on July 22, 2014. An Iranian official confirmed to CNN that the group is being held by authorities. The official did not say what they have been charged with.

July 29, 2014 – Iran releases one of three people detained alongside Rezaian, a source close to the family of the released detainee tells CNN. The released detainee is the husband of an Iranian-American photojournalist who remains in custody with Rezaian and his wife, according to the source.

August 20, 2014 – The Washington Post reports the photojournalist detained with Rezaian in July has been released. At her family’s request, the Post declines to publish her name.

October 6, 2014 – According to the Washington Post, Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, has been released on bail.

December 6, 2014 – During a 10-hour court session in Tehran, Rezaian is officially charged with unspecified crimes, according to the newspaper.

April 20, 2015 – According the Washington Post, Rezaian is being charged with espionage and other serious crimes including “collaborating with a hostile government” and “propaganda against the establishment.”

October 11, 2015 – Iran’s state media reports that Rezaian has been found guilty, but no details are provided about his conviction or his sentence. His trial reportedly took place between May and August.

November 22, 2015 – An Iranian court sentences Rezaian to prison. The length of the sentence is not specified.

January 16, 2016 – Iran releases four US prisoners including Rezaian, Hekmati, and Abedini, in exchange for the clemency of seven Iranians indicted or imprisoned in the United States for sanctions violations.

May 1, 2018 – Joins CNN as a global affairs analyst.

Reza “Robin” Shahini
July 11, 2016 – San Diego resident Reza “Robin” Shahini is arrested while visiting family in Gorgan, Iran. Shahini is a dual US-Iranian citizen.

October 2016 – Shahini is sentenced to 18 years in prison.

February 15, 2017 – Goes on a hunger strike to protest his sentence.

April 3, 2017 – The Center for Human Rights in Iran says Shahini has been released on bail while he awaits the ruling of the appeals court.

July 2018 – A civil lawsuit filed against the Iranian government on Shahini’s behalf indicates that Shahini has returned to the United States.

UC-Berkeley Grads
July 31, 2009 – Three graduates from the University of California at Berkeley, Sarah Shourd of Oakland, California, Shane Bauer, of Emeryville, California, and Joshua Fattal, of Cottage Grove, Oregon, are detained in Iran after hiking along the unmarked Iran-Iraq border in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region.

August 11, 2009 – Iran sends formal notification to the Swiss ambassador that the three American hikers have been detained. Switzerland represents the United States diplomatic interests in Iran since the United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations.

October 2009 – The Iranian government allows a Swiss diplomat to visit the hikers at Evin Prison.

November 5, 2009 – Secretary Clinton meets with the detainees’ families.

November 9, 2009 – Iran charges the three with espionage.

December 14, 2009 – The Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki states the three will stand trial.

February 2, 2010 – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announces the possibility of an exchange for Iranians serving sentences in America.

February 3, 2010 – Clinton says that there are no negotiations taking place between Washington, DC, and Iran regarding prisoner exchanges.

March 9, 2010 – The families of the three detained hikers speak by phone to the hikers for the first time since they were jailed.

May 20, 2010 – The detainees’ mothers are allowed to visit their children.

May 21, 2010 – The mothers are allowed a second visit, and the detained hikers speak publicly for the first time at a government-controlled news conference.

August 5, 2010 – Reports surface that Shourd is being denied medical treatment.

September 14, 2010 – Shourd is released on humanitarian grounds on $500,000 bail.

September 19, 2010 – Shourd speaks publicly to the press in New York.

September 24, 2010 – Shourd and her mother meet with Ahmadinejad in New York to discuss the release of her friend, Fattal and her fiancé, Bauer.

November 6, 2010 – Fattal, Bauer and Shourd are scheduled for trial on charges of spying in Iran’s Revolution Court, but the trial is postponed.

November 27, 2010 – Two days after Thanksgiving, Fattal and Bauer are allowed to call home for the second time. Each call lasts about five minutes.

January 31, 2011 – Iran issues a summons for Shourd to return to Tehran for a trial on espionage charges. The trial is scheduled for February 6, 2011.

February 6, 2011 – Fattal and Bauer’s trial begins. Shourd has not responded to a court summons to return to stand trial.

May 4, 2011 – Shourd announces she will not return to Tehran to face espionage charges.

May 11, 2011 – The trial is delayed again after the suspects are not brought from the prison to the courthouse.

July 31, 2011 – Fattal and Bauer’s final hearing takes place as closing arguments are presented.

August 20, 2011 – Fattal and Bauer each receive five years for spying and three years for illegal entry, according to state-run TV. They have 20 days to appeal.

August 28, 2011 – Attorney Masoud Shafiee announces that he has filed an appeal in the case.

September 14, 2011 – A Western diplomat tells CNN an Omani official is en route to Tehran to help negotiate the release of Fattal and Bauer. Oman helped secure the release of Shourd in 2010.

September 21, 2011 – Fattal and Bauer are released from prison on bail of $500,000 each and their sentences are commuted. Their lawyer declined to say who paid the bail.

September 25, 2011 – Fattal and Bauer arrive back in the United States.

Xiyue Wang
July 16, 2017 – The semi-official news agency Fars News, citing a video statement from Iranian judicial spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejheie, reports that a US citizen has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of spying. Princeton University identifies the man as Chinese-born Xiyue Wang, an American citizen and graduate student in history. According to a university statement, Wang was arrested in Iran last summer while doing scholarly research in connection with his Ph.D. dissertation.

December 7, 2019 – The White House announces that Wang has been released and is returning to the United States. Iran released Wang in a prisoner swap, in coordination with the United States freeing an Iranian scientist named Massoud Soleimani.

Michael White
January 8, 2019 – White’s mother, Joanne White, tells CNN she filed a missing person report after her son failed to return to work in California in July, after traveling to Iran to visit his girlfriend. She says she’s worried about her 46-year-old son’s health because he has had cancer and suffers from asthma.

January 9, 2019 – Bahram Ghasemi, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, says White “was arrested in the city of Mashhad a while ago, and within a few days after his arrest the US government was informed of the arrest through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.” Ghasemi denies allegations that White, a US Navy veteran who hails from Imperial Beach, California, has been mistreated in prison.

March 2019 – White is handed a 13-year prison sentence on charges of insulting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and for publicly posting private images, according to his attorney Mark Zaid.

March 19, 2020 – The ailing US Navy veteran is released into the custody of the Swiss Embassy on medical furlough. One condition of his release is that he must stay in Iran.

June 4, 2020 – White is released, according to White’s mother and a person familiar with the negotiations.

North Korea

Kenneth Bae
December 11, 2012 – US officials confirm that American citizen Kenneth Bae has been detained in North Korea for over a month.

April 30, 2013 – North Korea’s Supreme Court sentences Bae to 15 years of hard labor for “hostile acts” against the country.

August 27, 2013 – The State Department says that Ambassador Robert King will travel to Pyongyang at North Korea’s invitation and ask for Bae’s pardon on humanitarian grounds.

August 30, 2013 – North Korea rescinds its invitation for King to travel to North Korea.

October 11, 2013 – Bae meets with his mother in North Korea.

January 20, 2014 – A statement is released in which Bae says that he had committed a “serious crime” against North Korea. Any statement made by Bae in captivity is sanctioned by the North Korean government. The country has a long history of forcing false confessions.

February 7, 2014 – The State Department announces that Bae has been moved from a hospital to a labor camp.

November 8, 2014 – The State Department announces that Bae and Matthew Miller have been released and are on their way home.

Jeffrey Fowle
June 6, 2014 – North Korea announces it has detained US citizen Jeffrey Edward Fowle, who entered the country as a tourist in April. Fowle was part of a tour group and was detained in mid-May after leaving a bible in a restaurant.

June 30, 2014 – North Korea says that it plans to prosecute Fowle and another detained American tourist, Matthew Miller, accusing them of “perpetrating hostile acts.”

October 21, 2014 – A senior State Department official tells CNN that Fowle has been released and is on his way home.

Aijalon Gomes
January 25, 2010 – Aijalon Mahli Gomes, of Boston, is detained in North Korea after crossing into the country illegally from China. He formerly taught English in South Korea.

April 7, 2010 – He is sentenced to eight years of hard labor and ordered to pay a fine of 70 million North Korean won or approximately $600,000.

July 10, 2010 – Gomes is hospitalized after attempting to commit suicide.

August 25-27, 2010 – Carter arrives in North Korea, with hopes of negotiating for Gomes’ release.

August 27, 2010 – Carter and Gomes leave Pyongyang after Gomes is granted amnesty for humanitarian purposes.

Kim Dong Chul
October 2015 – Kim Dong Chul, a naturalized American citizen, is taken into custody after allegedly meeting a source to obtain a USB stick and camera used to gather military secrets. In January 2016, Kim is given permission to speak with CNN by North Korean officials and asks that the United States or South Korea rescue him.

March 25, 2016 – Kim has confessed to espionage charges, a North Korean official tells CNN.

April 29, 2016 – A North Korean official tells CNN that Kim has been sentenced to 10 years of hard labor for subversion and espionage.

May 9, 2018 – US President Donald Trump announces that Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim, appear to be in good health and are returning to the United States with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

May 10, 2018 – Around 3 a.m., the three freed American detainees exit their plane and are personally welcomed by Trump at Joint Base Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

Kim Hak-song
May 7, 2017 – The state-run Korean Central News Agency reports that US citizen Kim Hak-song was detained in North Korea on May 6 on suspicion of “hostile acts” against the regime. The regime describes Kim as “a man who was doing business in relation to the operation of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.”

May 9, 2018 Trump announces that Kim Hak-song, Kim Dong Chul and Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim, appear to be in good health and are returning to the United States with Secretary of State Pompeo.

May 10, 2018 – Around 3 a.m., the three freed American detainees exit their plane and are personally welcomed by Trump at Joint Base Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

Kim Sang Duk
April 22, 2017 – US citizen Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim, is detained by authorities at Pyongyang International Airport for unknown reasons. Kim taught for several weeks at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

May 3, 2017 – State-run Korean Central News Agency reports that Kim is accused of attempting to overthrow the government.

May 9, 2018 – Trump announces that Tony Kim, Kim Hak-song and Kim Dong Chul appear to be in good health and are returning to the United States with Pompeo.

May 10, 2018 – Around 3 a.m., the three freed American detainees exit their plane and are personally welcomed by Trump at Joint Base Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

Euna Lee and Laura Ling
Prior to this event, no Americans had ever been tried in North Korea‘s Supreme Court.

March 17, 2009 – Journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling cross into North Korea, are apprehended by North Korean soldiers, and charged with illegal entry to conduct a smear campaign.

June 4, 2009 – They are sentenced to 12 years hard labor in a North Korean prison with no forgiveness and no appeal allowed.

August 4, 2009 – Former US President Bill Clinton travels to Pyongyang on a private humanitarian mission to help secure their release.

August 5, 2009 – The women are pardoned and released after 140 days in captivity.

May 18, 2010 – Laura Ling and sister Lisa Ling’s book, “Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home,” is published.

September 28, 2010 – Lee’s book, “The World Is Bigger Now: An American Journalist’s Release from Captivity in North Korea…A Remarkable Story of Faith, Family, and Forgiveness,” is published.

Matthew Miller
April 25, 2014 – North Korea’s news agency reports that Matthew Todd Miller was taken into custody on April 10. According to KCNA, Miller entered North Korea seeking asylum and had torn up his tourist visa.

June 30, 2014 – North Korea says that it plans to prosecute Miller and another detained American tourist, Fowle, accusing them of “perpetrating hostile acts.”

September 14, 2014 – According to state-run media, Miller is convicted of committing “acts hostile” to North Korea and sentenced to six years of hard labor.

November 8, 2014 – The State Department announces Bae and Miller have been released and are on their way home.

Merrill Newman
October 26, 2013 – Merrill Newman of Palo Alto, California, is detained in North Korea, according to his family. Just minutes before his plane is to depart, Newman is removed from the flight by North Korean authorities, his family says.

November 22, 2013 – The US State Department says North Korea has confirmed to Swedish diplomats that it is holding an American citizen. The State Department has declined to confirm the identity of the citizen, citing privacy issues, but the family of Newman says the Korean War veteran and retired financial consultant has been detained since October.

November 30, 2013 – KCNA reports Newman issued an apology to the people of North Korea, “After I killed so many civilians and (North Korean) soldiers and destroyed strategic objects in the DPRK during the Korean War, I committed indelible offensive acts against the DPRK government and Korean people.” His statement ends: “If I go back to (the) USA, I will tell the true features of the DPRK and the life the Korean people are leading.”

December 7, 2013 – Newman returns to the United States, arriving at San Francisco International Airport. North Korea’s state news agency reports Newman was released for “humanitarian” reasons.

Eddie Yong Su Jun
April 12, 2011 – An American man has been detained by North Korean authorities; State Department officials tell CNN. A diplomatic source familiar with the case says the man entered North Korea in November.

April 14, 2011 – The KCNA reports that US citizen Eddie Yong Su Jun was arrested in November 2010 and has been under investigation for committing a crime against North Korea. No details are provided on the alleged crime.

May 27, 2011 – Following a visit from the US delegation which includes the special envoy for North Korean human rights, Robert King, and the Deputy Assistant Administrator of the US Agency for International Development, Jon Brause, to North Korea, Yong Su Jun is released.

Otto Frederick Warmbier
January 2, 2016 – Otto Frederick Warmbier, a University of Virginia college student, is detained in North Korea after being accused of a “hostile act” against the government.

February 29, 2016 – The North Korean government releases a video of Warmbier apologizing for committing, in his own words, “the crime of taking down a political slogan from the staff holding area of the Yanggakdo International Hotel.” It is not known if the student was forced to speak.

March 16, 2016 – Warmbier is sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for crimes against the state, a North Korean official tells CNN.

June 13, 2017 – Warmbier is transported back to the United States via medevac flight to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. There, doctors say that he has suffered severe brain damage. Doctors say Warmbier shows no current signs of botulism, which North Korean officials claim he contracted after his trial.

June 19, 2017 – Warmbier’s family issues a statement that he has died.

April 26, 2018 – Warmbier’s parents file a wrongful death lawsuit against the North Korean government charging that the country’s regime tortured and killed their son, according to lawyers for the family.

December 24, 2018 – A federal judge in Washington awards Warmbier’s parents more than half a billion dollars in the wrongful death suit against the North Korean government. The damages awarded include $45 million for pain, suffering and grief, and more than $6 million in economic losses that Warmbier would have earned in life based on his exceptional talent, according to an economist’s model. North Korea did not respond to the lawsuit — the opinion was rendered as a so-called “default judgment” — and the country has no free assets in the US for which the family could make a claim.


Serkan Golge
July 2016 – While on vacation in Turkey, Serkan Golge is arrested and accused of having links to the Gulenist movement. Golge is a 37-year-old NASA physicist who holds dual Turkish-US citizenship.

February 8, 2018 – Golge is sentenced to 7.5 years in prison.

September 2018 – A Turkish court reduces Golge’s prison sentence to five years.

May 29, 2019 – The State Department announces that Golge has been released.

Andrew Brunson
October 2016 – Andrew Brunson, a North Carolina native, is arrested in Izmir on Turkey’s Aegean coast, where he is pastor at the Izmir Resurrection Church. Brunson, an evangelical Presbyterian pastor, is later charged with plotting to overthrow the Turkish government, disrupting the constitutional order and espionage.

March 2018 – A formal indictment charges Brunson with espionage and having links to terrorist organizations. If convicted, he faces up to 35 years in prison.

April 16, 2018 – Brunson’s trial begins. He rejects the allegations listed in the indictment, denying that he has links to the organization of Gulen, the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK.

October 12, 2018 – Brunson is sentenced to three years and one month in prison but is released based on time served.


Timothy Hallett Tracy
April 24, 2013 – Timothy Hallett Tracy, of Los Angeles, is arrested at the Caracas airport, according to Reporters Without Borders. Tracy traveled to Venezuela to make a documentary about the political division gripping the country.

April 25, 2013 – In a televised address, newly elected President Nicolas Maduro says he ordered the arrest of Tracy for “financing violent groups.”

April 26, 2013 – State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell confirms the arrest of an American in Caracas but declines to comment on the specifics of the case. He says the accusations are the latest in a series of allegations in recent weeks made by the Venezuelan government that “foreign actors” are attempting to influence political developments in the country.

April 27, 2013 – Tracy is formally charged with conspiracy, association for criminal purposes and use of a false document.

June 5, 2013 – Tracy is released from prison and expelled from Venezuela.

Joshua Holt
May 26, 2018 – Joshua Holt and his Venezuelan wife, Thamara Holt, are released by Venezuela. The two had been imprisoned there since 2016. The American traveled to Venezuela to marry Thamara in 2016, and shortly afterward was accused by the Venezuelan government of stockpiling weapons and attempting to destabilize the government. He was held for almost two years with no trial.

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