News / Asia

Captive US Veteran Merrill Newman Returns Home

Merrill Newman, center, walks beside his wife Lee after arriving at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.
Merrill Newman, center, walks beside his wife Lee after arriving at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.
VOA News
An American Korean War veteran has returned to the United States after being detained for more than a month in North Korea.

Eighty-five-year-old Merrill Newman arrived at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday accompanied by his wife and son.

He told reporters he is tired, but that he has experienced a "great homecoming." He thanked U.S. and Swedish diplomats for helping secure his release.

Newman flew to San Francisco from Beijing, after being deported early Saturday by North Korean authorities.

He had been visiting North Korea with a tour group when he was removed from an airplane October 26 as he prepared to leave the country.

Last month, the North's official Korean Central News Agency posted a video of Newman reading an apology aloud, confessing to alleged crimes during the Korean War and so-called hostile acts.

North Korea's news agency said Saturday Newman was released on humanitarian grounds because he had admitted wrongdoing and apologized.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called Newman's release a positive decision, but urged Pyongyang to also release another American, Kenneth Bae, who has been held there for more than a year. Bae is a Korean-American missionary and tour operator. He is being held for alleged subversion.

Harf thanked the government of Sweden, which represents U.S. interests in North Korea because the U.S. does not have an embassy there.

Newman's release came as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited South Korea. Biden said he had spoken with Newman by phone after his release.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 08, 2013 7:45 PM
It is surprising to me that NK condemned and detained an old ex-soldier for his act conducted during the war more than sixty years ago. It is not good to be fixed too much to something happened old days.

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