The family of the most recent American to be detained in North Korea released a statement on Monday, saying that he was merely on vacation when he was captured.
It was first revealed that Jeffrey Fowle was detained on Friday, when the totalitarian regime put out a statement accusing him of acts "in violation of the DPRK law, contrary to the purpose of tourism during his stay," referring to the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Citing diplomatic sources, Japan's Kyodo News reported that the 56-year-old Fowle, who had entered the country on April 29, was detained after leaving behind a Bible at the hotel where he had been staying.
In the statement released Monday, Fowle's family noted that he is the father of three children, aged 9, 10 and 12, and was "travelling to North Korea as a part of a tour."
"Jeffrey loves to travel and loves the adventure of experiencing different cultures and seeing new places," the family said.
Jeffrey Fowle, 56, husband of Tatyana, and father of three children: Alex (12), Chris (10), and Stephanie (9), has been held in North Korea since May.
Because the U.S. doesn't have official relations with North Korea, the Swedish Embassy has been trying to secure Fowle's release.
"The Fowle family would like to express their sincere appreciation to The Swedish Embassy for their continuing efforts on Jeff's behalf," the statement said. "The family would also like to thank those from around the world who have offered their support during this difficult time."
Fowle is now the third American to be currently held in North Korea.
In April, North Korea announced that it had detained a 24-year-old American while he was being processed to enter the country. He was initially identified as Miller Matthew Todd, and later named as Matthew Miller. Pyongyang said he entered the country on April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up and shouted that he wanted asylum. The report said he chose the North "as a shelter."
North Korea has been holding a Korean-American missionary, Kenneth Bae, since November 2012. Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for what North Korea says were hostile acts against the state.
In November, North Korea detained an 85-year-old American war veteran for more than a month. Merrill Newman later said he was coerced into reading a videotaped apology for “hostile acts” against the state and thanked all those who had helped him during his time in captivity.
First published June 9 2014, 12:07 PM