North Korea says it has detained another U.S. tourist, making him the third American held in the reclusive communist state.
The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) Friday said Jeffrey Edward Fowle, who entered the country legally as part of a tour group, was arrested for violating the terms of his visa and for “hostile activities” it described as “contrary to the purpose of tourism.”
The Japanese Kyoto News Agency cites diplomatic sources as saying Fowle was taken into custody after he left behind a bible in his Pyongyang hotel room.
A State Department spokesperson has said the U.S. is aware of Fowle’s situation.
Two other Americans held by North Korea are Matthew Todd Miller and Kenneth Bae. Miller visited North Korea as a tourist and was detained there in April. He is said to have ripped-up his visa and demanded asylum.
Korean-American missionary Bae also remains in North Korean custody. He was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for alleged subversion.
Some Americans have been captured and released by the North Koreans. Often they have been forced to read video-taped confessions to various charges.
Such was Merrill Newman’s experience late last year. He was an American tourist in North Korea who is also a Korean War veteran in his 80s. Newman was held for about a month and then released.
In other cases, the North Koreans have used the detention of U.S. citizens to summon former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Both presidents in separate trips traveled to the communist state to secure the release of Americans.
Some analysts have said Pyongyang may attempt to use detained American citizens to bargain with the U.S. for concessions on its nuclear and missile programs.