We can use the present tense to talk about the past- we do it in narratives and suchlike to make things seem more alive and closer. We can also use now with the past tense in a similar way. However, you have not given the whole context- what was the time of the escape relative to the president's statement? If it's a TV news story, then it sounds fine, but if the escape happened last week, then it doesn't work.
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