US & Canada

Freed North Korea detainee Jeffrey Fowle returns to US

Jeffrey Fowle is greeted by family members upon his arrival at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio on 22 October 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Jeffrey Fowle was greeted by his wife and children upon arrival in Ohio

A US citizen released from detention in North Korea has been greeted to an emotional homecoming in Ohio.

An aircraft transporting Jeffrey Fowle, 56, landed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base early on Wednesday.

Mr Fowle was greeted by his wife, children and relatives upon arrival.

A US state department official said the agency was working to secure the release of two other US nationals, Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae, who remain in detention in North Korea.

There were tearful scenes as Mr Fowle was reunited with his family.

His children were brought to the base without being told their father would be on a plane home.

Following the arrival, a spokesman for the family said Mr Fowle was feeling well.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Fowle was reported to have left a Bible in the toilet of a restaurant

He was treated well by his captors but has requested privacy as he readjusts, his spokesman added.

When asked directly how he felt, Mr Fowle gave reporters a thumbs up.

The US had earlier accused North Korea of using detained Americans as pawns in a diplomatic game.

Mr Fowle, 56, entered North Korea on 29 April and was detained in early June as he was leaving the country. He was charged with "anti-state" crimes.

He was reported to have left a Bible in the toilet of a restaurant in the northern port city of Chongjin but his family have insisted that he was not on a mission for his Church.

Missionary activity is considered a crime in North Korea.

In August, he and fellow detainee Matthew Miller made a televised appeal to the US government to help secure their release.

Responding to the appeal, the US authorities vowed to make securing the release of the detainees a "top priority".

Image copyright AP
Image caption An Associated Press photographer said he captured what appeared to be a US Air Force jet at Pyongyang international airport on Tuesday

Mr Miller was later sentenced to six years' hard labour for committing "hostile acts".

Washington had been trying to send high-level representatives to negotiate the detainees' release but those visits were cancelled by North Korea in recent months.

Pyongyang has denied accusations that it is using the arrested Americans as diplomatic bargaining chips.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said there was "no quid pro quo" in Mr Fowle's release this week.

"We are very concerned about the remaining American citizens who are in North Korea, and we have great hopes that North Korea will see the benefit of releasing them also as soon as possible," he told reporters.

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