North Korea detains U.S. citizen; now has three in custody
The government of North Korea claims it has arrested a U.S. citizen, bringing the total number of American citizens in North Korean custody to three.
CNN reports the U.S. citizen is named Jeffrey Edward Fowle. The Korean Central News Agency, the official news organ of the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea, was the first to break the news. Their announcement said Fowle had entered North Korea as a tourist, but was arrested for acting, "contrary to the purpose of tourism."
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Citing reports in Japanese media, CNN speculates the arrest may be related to an incident that took place in the middle of May. The Japanese reports say Fowle was part of a tour group and then detained because a Bible was found in his room after he checked out of his hotel.
If true, Fowle was arrested North Korea is a Communist nation and religion is outlawed.
The State Department has said it is aware of the reports of this new arrest of an American citizen, but did not provide any further commentary or information.
One of the other two men in North Korean custody was apprehended in April. According to reports by the Korean Central News Agency cited by CNN, his name is Miller Matthew Todd. The Korean Central News Agency says Todd ripped his tourist visa in pieces shortly after arriving in North Korea and said he wanted shelter and asylum.
The State Department has also not provided details about Todd, but says it has been in contact with Sweden, which acts as an intermediary between the United States and North Korea since both nations are technically still at war.
The last American in North Korean custody is Kenneth Bae. Bae has been sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor in North Korea's inhumane and brutal gulags for supposedly trying to overthrow the North Korean state.