Kim Dong Chul, a South Korean-born American citizen detained in North Korea, is escorted to his trial April 29 in Pyongyang. A North Korean court sentenced Kim to 10 years in prison for what it called acts of subversion and espionage. North Korea watchers interpret the detainment of Americans and other foreign citizens as a collection of bargaining chips by the reclusive regime.
Kim Kwang Hyon/AP
University of Virginia student Otto Frederick Warmbier was detained by North Korea after being accused of carrying out "a hostile act" against the government, state media reported. In March, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly removing a political banner from a Pyongyang hotel.
Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post's bureau chief in Tehran, was released January 16 as part of a prisoner swap. Rezaian was convicted by an Iranian Revolutionary Court in October, according to Iran's state-run media. Rezaian was reportedly facing up to 20 years, but the sentence was not specified. The journalist was taken into custody in July 2014 and later charged with espionage; the Post has denied all allegations against him. His wife, Yeganeh Salehi, also was detained in July 2014 but later released.
File photo/From Zero Point Zero
Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen of Iranian birth, was freed as part of a prisoner swap that included Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian on January 16. Abedini was sentenced to eight years in prison in January 2013. He was accused of attempting to undermine the Iranian government and endangering national security by establishing home churches. He was detained in Iran on September 26, 2012, according to the American Center for Law and Justice.
Family Photo/ Courtesy of ACLJ
Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine charged with spying, was freed as part of a prisoner swap that included Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian on January 16. An Iranian court threw out a 2011 death sentence forHekmati, but he was secretly retried in Iran and convicted of "practical collaboration with the U.S. government," his sister told CNN on April 11. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, she said. Hekmati was detained in August 2011 during a visit to see his grandmother. His family and the Obama administration deny accusations he was spying for the CIA.
Courtesy Hekmati Family
Siamak Namazi, a Dubai-based businessman with dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship, was detained while visiting relatives in Tehran, the Wall Street Journal reported October 29, citing unnamed sources. The Washington Post also reported his detention, citing a family friend who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Post reported that it wasn't clear what Namazi is alleged to have done. His detention would bring to five the number of Americans detained or unaccounted for in the Islamic republic.
From Siamak Namazi
Scott Darden was taken hostage by Houthi rebels in Yemen in March 2015. He was captured while working for New Orleans-based Transoceanic Development, according to a source close to his family.
Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson has been missing since 2007. His family says he was working as a private investigator in Iran when he disappeared, and multiple reports suggest Levinson may have been working for the CIA. His family told CNN that they have long known that Levinson worked for the CIA, and they said it's time for the government to lay out the facts about Levinson's case. U.S. officials have consistently denied publicly that Levinson was working for the government, but they have repeatedly insisted that finding him and bringing him home is a "top" priority. The FBI increased its reward for information on Levinson from $1 million to $5 million.
Mothers Linda Boyle, left, and Lyn Coleman hold photo of their married children, Joshua Boyle and Caitlin Coleman, who were kidnapped by the Taliban in late 2012. Coleman was pregnant when she was kidnapped and is believed to have had a child in captivity.
Jailed since 2013 and sentenced to life for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Mohamed Soltan was eventually released, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo said in May 2015. Soltan's family denies he belonged to the Brotherhood. Soltan had been a dual U.S. and Egyptian citizen, but he renounced his Egyptian citizenship as a condition of his release.
One of three Americans detained in North Korea, Jeffrey Edward Fowle was released and sent home, a State Department official told CNN in October 2014. Fowle was accused of leaving a Bible in a hotel where he was staying. North Korea announced Fowle's detention in June of that year, saying he had violated the law by acting "contrary to the purpose of tourism." Fowle told CNN: "I've admitted my guilt to the government and signed a statement to that effect and requested forgiveness from the people and the government of the DPRK."
In May 2013, a North Korean court sentenced Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen, to 15 years of hard labor for committing "hostile acts" against the state. North Korea claimed Bae was part of a Christian plot to overthrow the regime. In a short interview with CNN in September 2014, Bae said he is working eight hours a day, six days a week at a labor camp. "Right now what I can say to my friends and family is, continue to pray for me," he said. After months in detention, he and fellow American detainee Matthew Todd Miller were released in November.
Miller, an American sentenced to six years of hard labor in North Korea, was one of three Americans who spoke to CNN's Will Ripley in September 2014 and implored the U.S. government for help. The 24-year-old was accused of tearing up his tourist visa and seeking asylum upon entry to North Korea.
American journalist Peter Theo Curtis was handed over to U.N. peacekeepers in August 2014 after nearly two years in captivity. He is believed to have been captured in October 2012 and held by the al-Nusra Front, a Syrian rebel group with ties to al Qaeda.
Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe/Getty Images
Alan Gross, at right with Rabbi Arthur Schneier, was jailed while working as a subcontractor in Cuba in December 2009. Cuban authorities say Gross tried to set up illegal Internet connections on the island. Gross says he was just trying to help connect the Jewish community to the Internet. Former President Jimmy Carter and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson both traveled to Cuba on Gross' behalf. He was eventually released in December.