Schumer to Trump: Hostages aren't 'bargaining chips'

Schumer to Trump: Hostages aren't 'bargaining chips'
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerWith lives at stake, Congress must start acting on health care To make the House of Representatives work again, make it bigger Reforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Wednesday that he was "delighted" that three Americans are being released by North Korea but warned the Trump administration against linking the individuals to broader negotiations.

"We cannot forget: No regime has the right to hold American citizens in captivity without cause, and under no circumstances should American citizens be viewed as bargaining chips," Schumer said on the Senate floor. 

Trump announced on Twitter on Wednesday morning that Kim Dong-chul, Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song, three American citizens who were imprisoned on charges of espionage or other anti-state activities against North Korea, were traveling back to the U.S. with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTwo men arrested for allegedly spying for Iran in US China moves to keep buying Iranian oil despite US sanctions: report US-Russia cooperation could ensure safer repatriation of Syrian refugees MORE.

"I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting. They seem to be in good health. Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un. Date & Place set,"  the president said in a tweet.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said separately in a statement that Trump views the detainee release “as a positive gesture of goodwill” ahead of the planned summit with North Korea, which is expected to take place this month or next.

But Schumer warned from the Senate floor that linking the release of the hostages to negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear program would send the wrong signal to other countries who are detaining Americans.

"If countries in the world think they can detain Americans and get something in return we'll see many more hostages," he said. 

He added that while he was "rooting for" talks with North Korea to succeed, "the hostages shouldn't be part of it. We are happy they have returned but North Korea shouldn't gain by taking Americans and then releasing them."