North Korea has released 85-year-old U.S. veteran Merrill Newman after holding him for more than a week for allegedly making plots against Pyongyang, but American Christian missionary Kenneth Bae is still being held at a labor camp.
“I’m delighted to be home,” Newman told reporters at the San Francisco airport after arriving there on Saturday. “It’s been a great homecoming. I’m tired, but ready to be with my family,” The Associated Press quoted him as saying amid applause from supporters gathered there.
Vice President Joe Biden had offered to bring the 85-year-old veteran in his Air Force Two, but Newman preferred to board a direct flight from Beijing, where he flew from North Korea after being freed.
Newman expressed gratitude towards the Swedish and American embassies in Pyongyang for helping secure his release.
“I appreciate the tolerance the DPRK government has given to me to be on my way. I feel good. I feel good. I want to go home to see my wife,” he added, according to USA Today.
Marie Harf, deputy spokeswoman of the U.S. State Department, released a statement saying, “We welcome the decision to release him.”