A U.S. veteran of the Korean War has been released by North Korea after more than a month detention for “hostile acts” against the country.
The 85-year-old Merrill Newman from California was released on “humanitarian grounds” because of his age and health condition after he apologized and confessed his crimes during the 1950-1953 war, said North Korean state media.
State Department deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf says “We are pleased that Mr Merrill Newman has been allowed to depart the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and rejoin his family. We welcome the DPRK’s decision to release him”.
“I’m very glad to be on my way home. And 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,” Newman told Japanese reporters.
Earlier, a video was released by North Korean authorities showing Newman wearing eyeglasses, a blue shirt and tan trousers reading his ‘apology’ dated November 09.
The four page statement Newman read was in unnatural English and contained grammatical errors like “I want not to punish me”.
“I have been guilty of a long list of indelible crimes against DPRK government and Korean people,” Newman said in the video, adding: “Please forgive me.”
North Korean state media said the war veteran attempted to meet with any surviving soldiers he had trained during the war and admitted that he was involved in killings of service personnel of the Korean People’s Army and civilians, and brought an e-book criticizing North Korea, according to a Fox News report.
North Korea has detained six Americans before him since 2009.