US says North Korea releases 2 detained Americans

WASHINGTON (AP) — The two remaining Americans who had been held in North Korea have been released and are on their way home, U.S. officials said Saturday.

A spokesman for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Clapper was accompanying Americans Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller on their journey back to the United States.

Bae and Miller were the last Americans held by North Korea following the release last month of Jeffrey Fowle, an Ohio resident detained for nearly six months.

Miller, who’s from Bakersfield, California, was serving a six-year jail term on charges of espionage, after he allegedly ripped his tourist visa at Pyongyang’s airport in April and demanded asylum. North Korea said Miller had wanted to experience prison life so that he could secretly investigate North Korea’s human rights situation.

Bae, who’s from Lynnwood, Washington, is a Korean-American missionary with health problems. He was serving a 15-year sentence for alleged anti-government activities. He was detained in 2012 while leading a tour group to a North Korea economic zone.

Fowle had been detained after leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the hope that it would reach the country’s underground Christian community.

The announcement about Bae and Miller came one day before Obama travels to Asia for a three-country visit.

The development does not mean a change in U.S. posture regarding North Korea’s disputed nuclear program, and the North still must show it is serious and ready to abide by commitments toward denuclearization and improved human rights, said a senior Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss national security matters.

The official said there was no quid pro quo involved in the Americans’ release.

The U.S. notified allies of Clapper’s trip to North Korea and alerted members of the congressional leadership once his visit was underway, the official said.

 

AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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