US officials have stated that two American citizens, Matthew Todd Miller and Kenneth Bae, were released by the North Korean government after having been jailed for “crimes against the state”.
The two were the last remaining US citizens detained in North Korea following the release of Jeffrey Fowle last month, who had been in detention for nearly six months.
Fowle, a tourist visiting North Korea, was imprisoned approximately six months ago after he had allegedly left a bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin. Religious proselytising is forbidden by North Korea’s communist government.
Jeffrey Fowle, a US citizen who was being detained in North Korea (photo: Reuters)
Bae was arrested in 2012 and was serving a 15-year prison sentence for charges including “hostile acts to bring down its government”, while Miller was jailed for espionage charges after allegedly tearing up his passport at the airport and demanding asylum upon his arrival to the country.
The release of Bae and Miller took place following secret negotiations involving the US director of national intelligence, James R Clapper, and the Swedish government.
“We welcome [North Korea’s] decision to release both Mr Bae and Mr Miller,” said the US’ Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “We want to thank our international partners, especially our Protecting Power, the government of Sweden, for their tireless efforts to help secure their release.”