Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller, the two remaining Americans known to have been detained in North Korea, have been released and are on their way home, CNN is reporting.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper secured the men’s release from North Korea after a secret mission to Pyongyang — a rare move for a senior-level U.S. official. Clapper’s office issued a statement confirming the release, and thanking other nations for their support in securing Bae’s and Miller’s release.
“We can confirm that U.S. citizens Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller have been allowed to depart [North Korea] and are on their way home, accompanied by DNI Clapper, to re-join their families. The United States government is facilitating their return to the United States. We welcome the DPRK’s decision to release both Mr. Bae and Mr. Miller. We want to thank our international partners, especially our Protecting Power, the Government of Sweden, for their tireless efforts to help secure their release.”
The move to release the two remaining detainees comes less than a month after another American held in North Korea, Jeffrey Fowle, was released, according to USA Today. Fowle has since been reunited with his family and is at home in Miamisburg, Ohio.
Fowle, a devout Christian, had left a Bible in a bathroom at a popular sailors’ nightclub, hoping North Korean and foreign sailors would see it.
Similarly, Kenneth Bae, also a devout Christian, had been detained in North Korea since 2012 for alleged “anti-government activities.” Bae, who styles himself a missionary, was accused of proselytizing and was sentenced to 15 years hard labor, despite his advanced age.
The motivations for Matthew Miller, the final American detained in North Korea, are less clear. According to this Inquisitr report, he arrived at the Pyongyang Airport, tore up his passport, and demanded asylum. North Korean authorities would later claim that he wanted to be “the next Snowden” and document conditions inside the secretive regime’s notorious prison labor camps.
According to Amnesty International, North Korea’s prison camps are places of torture, starvation, and impossibly hard labor. Bae, Fowle, and Miller have all given interviews — closely monitored by North Korean guards — describing the conditions they’ve endured in prison. Although all three men admitted that they spent their days at hard labor, they have all stated that they have been treated well by their captors. Miller, however, did admit that he was kept in isolation and not allowed to speak to anyone.
As of this post, it is unclear what concessions, if any, the U.S. has given to North Korea to secure the detainees’ releases.
[Image courtesy of: NBC]