N. Korea Frees American

N. Korea Frees AmericanN. Korea Frees American

North Korea has freed Jeffrey Fowle, one of three Americans detained by the country, and he is being flown home to his family, Washington said on Tuesday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States welcomed the release of Fowle, 56, from Miamisburg, Ohio, but pressed Pyongyang to free the two remaining Americans, Reuters reported.

“While this is a positive decision ... we remain focused on the continued detention of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller and again call on the DPRK to immediately release them,” Earnest said, referring to the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea announced Fowle’s detention in June, saying he had violated the law by acting “contrary to the purpose of tourism.”

Bae, 46, a Christian missionary who entered North Korea in 2012, has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for “anti-state” activities. Miller, 24, entered North Korea in April and, according to the Pyongyang government, shredded his American passport and requested asylum.

The release was facilitated by Swedish diplomats, said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

Sweden has an embassy in Pyongyang and acts as a “protecting power” for Washington.

Stephan Haggard, a North Korea expert at the University of California in San Diego, said the move to free Fowle was likely part of an effort by Pyongyang to show it was “reasonable”.