Merrill Newman has arrived in San Francisco after being released by North Korea.
North Korea’s state news agency said Merrill Newman was expelled on “humanitarian grounds” after confessing to “crimes” in the 1950-53 war and “apologizing”.
The US veteran of the Korean War had been held since October 26 on charges of “hostile acts” against the North, while visiting as a tourist.
Although Merrill Newman, 85, did serve during the Korean War, his family says he is the victim of mistaken identity.
The US welcomed Pyongyang’s decision.
“We are pleased that Mr. Merrill Newman has been allowed to depart the DPRK [North Korea] and re-join his family. We welcome the DPRK’s decision to release him,” said state department spokeswoman Marie Harf.
“I’m delighted to be home,” Merrill Newman said in San Francisco.
“It’s been a great homecoming. I’m tired, but ready to be with my family.”
He thanked the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang and US embassy in Beijing for helping to secure his release.
Merrill Newman – a pensioner from Palo Alto, California – had been held in North Korea since being taken off a plane as he prepared to leave the country on October 26, following a 10-day tourist visit.
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