North Korea has released two Americans, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence reported on Saturday.
The men are currently on their way home with agency Director James Clapper, Fox News reported. Clapper carried out the secret negotiations to free the pair. The two are the last Americans held by North Korea after the release of Jeffrey Fowle last month.
It is unusual for Clapper, the most senior intelligence official of the United States, to personally escort released detainees home, as his job is coordinating intelligence policy and operations among the 16 intelligence agencies in the country.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Barack Obama” author_title=”President of the United States”]
We’re very grateful. I appreciate Director Clapper doing a great job on what was obviously a challenging mission. I think it’s a wonderful thing for the men and their families, and obviously we’re very grateful for their safe return.
Kenneth Bae, 46, has been held in North Korea for two years on charges that he operated with the evangelical organization Youth with a Mission and preached against the North Korean government. The country’s regime accused him of attempting to overthrow the government and sentenced him to fifteen years of hard labor, the New York Times reported. Bae was in the country as a missionary and tour guide.
Matthew Miller, 25, entered North Korea seven months ago. He is reported to have sought asylum and torn up his visa. He was charged with unruly behavior. State-run media accused Miller of committing hostile acts under the “guise of a tourist.” He was sentenced to six years, NBC News reported.
No details have yet been released on how the releases were secured, although the Swedish government has been assisting with negotiations on behalf of the United States, which has no diplomatic ties with the country.
Last month, the Swedish Embassy helped secure the release of American Jeffrey Fowle, who was arrested in North Korea in May and accused of leaving a Bible in a hotel room.