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American Freed After Months Of Detention In North Korea

Jeffrey Fowle, an American that had been detained in North Korea, speaking to The Associated Press, last month in Pyongyang. Fowle was released by North Korean authorities and flown back to the United States on Tuesday.
Image credit: Wong Maye-E

Updated at 1:35 p.m. ET

Jeffrey Fowle, one of three Americans held by North Korea, has been released, the White House says.

Fowle, 56, who was detained in June, allegedly for leaving a Bible in his hotel room in North Korea, was home today after negotiators secured his release.

At the time, North Korean state media said he had “acted in violation of the [North Korean] law, contrary to the purpose of tourism during his stay.”

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Washington has tried for months to send a high-level envoy to North Korea to seek release of the three men.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest says the Pentagon provided Fowle with a flight home.

“While this is a positive decision by the DPRK, we remain focused on the continued detention of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller and call on the DPRK to immediately release them,” Earnest said, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In June, NPR’s Frank Langfitt reported that Fowle had “worked repairing streets in Ohio” and entered North Korea in April. The following month, the State Department urged Americans not to travel to North Korea because of the risk of detention.

Matthew Miller, 24, entered North Korea as a tourist in early April. State media there said he ripped up his tourist visa and demanded asylum. Miller was sentenced to six years’ hard labor last month for committing acts “hostile” to the regime.

Kenneth Bae, 45, variously described as a missionary and a businessman, was arrested in 2012 and later sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor on charges that included attempted overthrow of the Pyongyang government.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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