The following editorial is republished from the Oct. 21 Bowling Green Daily News.
As a country we should always go all out to free unjustly held American hostages from hostile countries.
We've seen through the decades where some hostage situations have ended well and Americans were returned safely to their loved ones. We've seen other situations that have not ended well.
One only has to go back to 1979, when 52 American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days from Nov. 4, 1979, to Jan. 20, 1981, after a group of Iranian college students belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line, who supported the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Many believed then-President Jimmy Carter didn't try hard enough to get the hostages released, and ultimately it cost him his re-election bid to President Ronald Reagan. The hostages were freed after Reagan took the oath of office.
Some presidents have had some successes in their time in office while others have not. Our current president, Donald Trump, has shown through diplomatic actions that he can bring our citizens home from hostile places. One only has to look at what Trump has done to assist American hostages.
In June 2017, working behind the scenes, Trump and those working for him helped secure the release of University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who was arrested in North Korea in January 2016 for taking down a sign. Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Unfortunately, Warmbier fell into a coma during his incarceration - likely from mistreatment - and died several days after he was returned to the U.S. Although Warmbier passed away, his family was able to see him before his death and give him the proper burial he deserved.
Because of Trump's determination and ability to work with North Korea, he secured the release of this young man who should've never been imprisoned.
In May, Trump and his team, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, secured the release of three more hostages from North Korea. The three men included Kim Dong-chul, a businessman and naturalized American citizen from the Virginia suburbs of Washington. He had been sentenced to 10 years of hard labor in April 2016 after being convicted of spying and other offenses.
Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang-duk, was arrested in April 2017 while trying to board a plane to leave North Korea. He had spent a month teaching accounting at a Christian-funded school, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.
Kim Hak-song, who volunteered at the school's agricultural research farm, was arrested in May 2017. CNN reported he was born in China near the North Korean border and emigrated to the United States in the 1990s, later returning to China and eventually moving to Pyongyang.
All three of these men are now free because Trump has opened the door with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. While we should never fully trust the North Koreans as they've proven too many times they can't be trusted, the release of these men does show that summits and meeting with people like Kim have advantages.
This month, Trump also secured the release of the Rev. Andrew Brunson, who spent two years in Turkey on terrorism charges. Trump was also responsible for getting several prisoners released who were being held in Venezuela on trumped-up charges.
While Trump has done a very solid job getting American hostages and prisoners released, we hope he will do more to help secure the release of Dr. Shakil Afridi.
Afridi, the physician who worked with the CIA to track down Osama bin Laden, has been in a Pakistan prison since 2011 on treason charges. This man is a hero who helped us locate one of the biggest mass murderers of our time. He deserves to be free. We've given U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a lot of credit for doing all he can do through the years to get Afridi freed. We are proud of Paul for his efforts to see this honorable and brave man set free.
Hopefully, now that Trump and Paul have a pretty close relationship, more can be done to see that this becomes a reality.