Biden walks back South Africa arrest claim: 'I wasn't arrested, I was stopped'

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenProsecutor investigating whether Tara Reade gave false testimony as expert witness Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally George Floyd's sister says Minneapolis officers should be charged with murder MORE on Friday clarified previous remarks that he was arrested in South Africa while visiting anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela during the 1970s, saying he was “stopped” but not “arrested.”

“When I said arrested, I meant I was not able to, I was not able to move. Cops, Afrikaners, were not letting me go with them, made me stay where I was. I guess I wasn’t arrested, I was stopped. I was not able to move where I wanted to go,” Biden said in an interview with CNN.

Biden went on to say that law enforcement in South Africa led him off of a plane while he was traveling with the Congressional Black Caucus.


“I turned around and everybody — all the entire black delegation was going another way. I said, 'I’m not going to go in that door that says "white only," I’m going with them.' They said, ‘You’re not, you can’t move, you can’t go with them.’ And they kept me there until finally I decided that it was clear I wasn’t going to move,” Biden told CNN.

“And so what they finally did they said OK, they’re not going to make the congressional delegation go through the black door, they’re not going to make me go through the white door. They took us out — if my memory serves me — through a baggage claim area up to a restaurant, and they cleared out a restaurant,” he added.

Biden told CNN that he felt “strongly about apartheid” in South Africa and that Mandela later thanked him for his work on the issue.


“He was one of the most incredible men I ever met. He sat down in my office, thanked me, thanked me for trying to do all the work I did on apartheid. And so that’s the context of it,” Biden said.

Earlier this month in South Carolina, Biden said, “I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see [Mandela] on Robben Island.”

Andrew Young, who was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the time, told The New York Times last week that he was not arrested with Biden.

Kate Bedingfield, a deputy campaign manager for Biden, told the newspaper on Tuesday that Biden was “separated from his party at the airport.”