North Korea Releases American Who Left His Bible in Public

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FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2014 file photo, Jeffrey Fowle, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, in Pyongyang, North Korea. A trial is expected soon for Fowle, who entered the North as a tourist but was arrested in May for leaving a Bible at a provincial club. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
Photo: Wong Maye-E/AP/Corbis

Jeffrey Fowle, one of three Americans being held captive in North Korea, is on his way home. Fowle was detained in May after leaving a bilingual bible in his hotel room (or in a nightclub, or in a restaurant bathroom, depending on the source, because this is North Korea). The 59-year-old was charged with “anti-state crimes.”

We certainly welcome the decision,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest, while calling on the reclusive nation to release the remaining two Americans. Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary, is also being held on religion-related grounds, while North Korea alleges that the third man, Matthew Miller, wanted to go to a North Korean prison to expose human rights abuses.

The release comes shortly after the country’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, re-appeared after a long public absence. Those familiar with the internal political landscape speculated that Dear Leader had gout, as evidenced by his pronounced limp and weight gain.

Maybe all that time out of the public eye made him a little softer. Fowle was evacuated via government plane to Guam before heading back to Ohio, where he used to work as city equipment operator. (He lost his job during his extended stay abroad.)

Assuming he wants to be reinstated, he will,” said his former and future boss, Moraine City Manager David Hicks. “I’m sure that we’ll have some celebration upon his return.”