Jeffrey Fowle, who was arrested and has been detained in North Korea since May for leaving a Bible behind in his hotel room, has been released from the country, but two more Americans are still behind bars in North Korea.
Fowle is reportedly already out of the country, and according to CNN, the news of his release was only made public after the plane he was on landed in Guam. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, according to NBC News, Fowle has been seen by a doctor already and appears to be in good health.
The North Korean government arrested Fowle on suspicion of trying to proselytize more Christian followers through the act of leaving his Bible behind. While there are many state-run churches within North Korea, the government does not allow independent religious activities to take place for fear of undermining their authority. Independent religious activities are considered any actions pertaining to a religious organization which is not under the control of the North Korean government.
While the White House welcomed the news of Fowle’s release and thanked the Swedish government for their part in securing transport for Fowle out of North Korea, officials are still working on arranging the release of Americans Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae from the country.
“While this is a positive decision by the DPRK,”said the State Department, according to the Guardian, “we remain focused on the continued detention of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller and again call on the DPRK to immediately release them.”
Bae was arrested by the North Korean government under charges of “hostile acts to bring down the government.” The government claims he was part of a Christian based plot to overthrow the North Korean government. Bae, as well as the other prisoners, was allowed an interview with CNN, and Bae reported he was being held in a labor camp where he worked six days a week for eight hours.
The charges Miller is facing are not clear as he told the CNN interview he would find those out when he went to trial. As of now, the North Korean government is accusing him of tearing up his tourist visa, but whether this is true or not and what charges might arise from this, are unclear.
The State Department and government are still trying to make a deal for the secure release of the Bae and Miller.