North Korea has released an 85-year-old American and Korean War veteran after he was held in the country for more than a month.
Merrill Newman, a tourist who was detained since late October for his alleged crimes during the Korean War, arrived home in California Saturday, the Associated Press reports.
“I am very glad to be on my way home,” Newman said after arriving at the airport in Beijing from Pyongyang. “And I appreciate the tolerance the [North Korean] government has given me to be on my way.”
Newman read a scripted apology last month, confessing to killing North Koreans during the war. It was the first time he had been heard from since authorities seized him from a plane headed back to the United States on Oct. 26 after a 10-day tour. The vet led South Korea guerrilla fighters during the Korean War, but was never involved in the day-to-day operations, according to former members of his troop.
Vice President Joe Biden, who is traveling in Seoul, offered Newman return on Air Force Two, but Newman opted for a direct flight home to California on Saturday instead.
North Korea has detained at least six Americans since 2009 but has released or deported five. Kenneth Bae, an American who has been held for more than a year, remains captive. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf has asked Pyongyang to pardon Bae “as a humanitarian gesture.”