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North Korea's release of detained American Jeffrey Fowle 'welcomed' by White House

U.S. citizen Jeffrey Fowle was released from North Korean custody Tuesday after six months in detention for leaving a Bible in a hotel.

By
JC Finley
Heavy barbed wire fences guard the Freedom Bridge, connecting South Korea to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and North Korea, near Seoul. (UPI/Stephen Shaver)
Heavy barbed wire fences guard the Freedom Bridge, connecting South Korea to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and North Korea, near Seoul. (UPI/Stephen Shaver) | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Jeffrey Fowle, a 56-year-old American man detained by North Korea since April for allegedly violating visa-related regulations, has been released.

The U.S. Department of State confirmed his release, noting that he "is on his way home to re-join his family."

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"We certainly welcome the decision," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday, confirming Fowle's release from North Korean custody.

At the request of Pyongyang, the U.S. Department of Defense provided transportation for Fowle out of the North Korea, U.S. officials noted.

Fowle was arrrested in May for leaving a Bible in a hotel where he had stayed with a tourist group.

"It's a covert act and a violation of tourists' rules," explained Fowle in an interview with CNN last month. "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."

The reason for Fowle's release is unclear, while Americans Kenneth Bae, arrested in November 2012 for "hostile acts" and sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor, and Miller Matthew Todd, who state media claimed requested asylum in North Korea in April, remain in North Korean custody.

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State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf reiterated U.S. commitment to securing the release of the remaining Americans, saying Tuesday "we remain focused on the continued detention of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller and again call on the DPRK to immediately release them. The U.S. Government will continue to work actively on their cases."

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