U.S. citizen detained in North Korea for three weeks

Nov. 20, 2013 at 1:50 PM
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SAN RAMON, Calif., Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A U.S. citizen was removed from a plane in North Korea and has been detained for three weeks, the Bay Area Newsgroup of San Ramon, Calif., reported Wednesday.

Citing sources, the news organization said Merrill Newman, 85, of Palo Alto, Calif., was to leave North Korea Oct. 26 after visiting the country with a friend through a tour business based in Beijing.

Neither North Korea nor the U.S. State Department, which have no diplomatic relationship, has formally announced Newman's detention.

"We are aware of reports that a U.S. citizen was detained in North Korea," an unidentified State Department official told the newsgroup by email, who noted the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea "acts as our protecting power for issues involving U.S. citizens in North Korea. We are in regular, close coordination with representatives of the Embassy of Sweden."

Newman was a high school teacher in California before his retirement, and is a regular world traveler, the Newsgroup said.

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