Biden Claims He Was Arrested Back in the '70s Trying To Visit Nelson Mandela - But No One Remembers It

Brittany M. Hughes | February 21, 2020

Former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is now bizarrely claiming he was arrested with the UN ambassador trying to visit Nelson Mandela in South Africa back in the ‘70s.

There’s just one problem: the UN ambassador at the time said he doesn’t recall ever being arrested with Biden – and neither does anyone else.

“This day, 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and entered into discussions about apartheid,” Biden said at an event in South Carolina last week, repeating a story he's told at least three times on the campaign trail. “I had the great honor of meeting him. I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on Robbens Island.”

But according to the New York Times, Biden’s never mentioned this alleged arrest, which you’d think would be a pretty prominent story in his record, before:

But if Mr. Biden, then a United States senator from Delaware, was in fact arrested while trying to visit Mr. Mandela, he did not mention it in his 2007 memoir when writing about a 1970s trip to South Africa, and he has not spoken of it prominently on the 2020 campaign trail. A check of available news accounts by The New York Times turned up no references to an arrest. South African arrest records are not readily available in the United States.

On top of that, Andrew Young, who was the UN ambassador at the time, said he was never arrested, and, to his knowledge, neither was Biden.

“No, I was never arrested and I don’t think he was, either,” Young said in a phone interview with the NYT. “Now, people were being arrested in Washington. I don’t think there was ever a situation where congressmen were arrested in South Africa.” 

While the NYT never outright denied that Biden's account could be true, the lack of any record of his alleged arrest, the fact that he'd failed to mention it ever before, and Young's denial of the account throw some serious shadows onto a campaign already riddled with strange tales, gaffes, and repeated lapses in memory.

(Cover Photo: Gage Skidmore)