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Published On: Sat, Nov 8th, 2014

North Korea frees Christians Kenneth Bae, Matthew Miller

US citizens Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller have been freed from detention by the North Korean government and are returning to the United States, the US government said today. Both Christian men were being accompanied by James Clapper, the  director of national intelligence, his office stated.

Kenneth Bae American Incarcerated in North Korea Image/Video Screen Shot

Kenneth Bae American Incarcerated in North Korea
Image/Video Screen Shot

Bae is a missionary who was arrested in North Korea in November 2012 and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for crimes against the state. Miller was tried on an espionage charge, had been in custody since April this year and sentenced to six years of hard labor.

“We are grateful to Director of National Intelligence Clapper, who engaged on behalf of the United States in discussions with DPRK authorities about the release of two citizens,” the US State Department said in a statement.

“We also want to thank our international partners, especially our Protecting Power, the government of Sweden, for their tireless efforts to help secure the freedom of Mr Bae and Mr Miller.”

Bae was held in prison for over 20 months, the longest North Korean imprisonment of an American since the Korean War. Bae was working in the country as a tour guide, but officials allege that Bae’s North Korean tour company was a front for Christian evangelical missions which violated the country’s laws.

North Korea has been strongly pushing tourism lately in an effort to bring in foreign cash, but the State Department warns against as U.S. citizens are arrested and detained.

Full State Department remarks:

The Department of State welcomes the release of U.S. citizens Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller from the D.P.R.K., where they have been held for two years and seven months, respectively. The safety and welfare of U.S. citizens abroad is the Department of State’s highest priority, and the United States has long called on D.P.R.K. authorities to release these individuals on humanitarian grounds. We join their families and friends in welcoming them home.

We are grateful to Director of National Intelligence Clapper, who engaged on behalf of the United States in discussions with D.P.R.K. authorities about the release of two citizens.

We also want to thank our international partners, especially our Protecting Power, the Government of Sweden, for their tireless efforts to help secure the freedom of Mr. Bae and Mr. Miller.

The Department of State reiterates our strong recommendation against all travel by U.S. citizens to the D.P.R.K.

Kenneth Bae, photo supplied by family from Bae's visit to China

Kenneth Bae, photo supplied by family from Bae’s visit to China

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