American citizen Jeffrey Fowle has been released by the North Korean authorities, US officials say.
Jeffrey Fowle, 56, was one of three US citizens detained in North Korea.
State department spokeswoman Marie Harf confirmed that Jeffrey Fowle was on his way home on October 21 following negotiations.
Marie Harf said the US was working to secure the release of two other US nationals, Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae, who remain in detention in North Korea.
The US has accused North Korea of using the detained Americans as pawns in a diplomatic game.
Jeffrey Fowle entered North Korea on April 29 and was detained in early June as he was leaving the country. He was charged with “anti-state” crimes.
He was reported to have left a Bible in the toilet of a restaurant in the northern port city of Chongjin but his family has insisted that he was not on a mission for his church.
Missionary activity is considered a crime in North Korea.
In August, Jeffrey Fwle and fellow detainee Matthew Miller made a televised appeal to the US government to help secure their release.
Responding to the appeal, the US authorities vowed to make securing the release of the detainees a “top priority”.
Matthew Miller was later sentenced to six years’ hard labor for committing “hostile acts”.
The state department’s Marie Harf said Washington welcomed Jeffrey Fowle’s release, adding that US officials “remain focused on the continued detention of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller and again call on the DPRK [North Korea] to immediately release them”.
She said North Korea had asked the US government to transport Jeffrey Fowle out of the country as a condition of his release.
Marie Harf also thanked Sweden, which serves as the US protecting power in North Korea, for the “tireless efforts” of its embassy in Pyongyang.
No reason was given for Jeffrey Fowle’s release.
Washington has been trying to send high-level representatives to negotiate the detainees’ release, but these visits have been cancelled by North Korea in recent months.
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