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A Ohio dad who was detained in North Korea in May after reportedly leaving a Bible at a club for sailors has been released and is on his way home, the White House announced on Tuesday. Jeffrey Fowle, 56, was one of three U.S. citizens being held by the reclusive state.
"While this is a positive decision by [North Korea}, we remain focused on the continued detention of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller," the State Department said in a statement. Because the U.S. doesn't have official relations with North Korea, the Swedish Embassy had been working to secure Fowle's release.
A military plane took Fowle out of North Korea and to an American facility on Guam. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said he was examined by a doctor and "appears to be in good health."
In June, Fowle's family said the father of three was simply on vacation when he was detained and accused of acts "contrary to the purpose of tourism." In August, the family apologized for Fowle's actions. The family lawyer, Timothy Tepe, had no immediate comment because he had not received official word of the release, his office said.
Asked about Fowle's claim that he was a tourist and not proselytizing in a country that limits religious freedoms, Harf said, "It’s not about whether or not we believe his story. We believed that he should be immediately released."
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— Tracy Connor