Adventure-loving US father-of-three named as detainee in Pyongyang

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2014, 10:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 June, 2014, 1:17pm

The US citizen being detained in North Korea, Jeffrey Fowle, is a 56-year-old father-of-three with a passion for adventure who was in the country on a holiday, his lawyer said.

"Jeffrey loves to travel and loves the adventure of experiencing different cultures and seeing new places," his attorney, Timothy Tepe, said. "Mrs Fowle and the children miss Jeffrey very much and are anxious for his return home," he added.

North Korea said last week it had detained an American tourist for violating its laws. That brought to three the number of US citizens held by Pyongyang.

Fowle is from Miamisburg, Ohio, and worked in the Moraine city street department.

Japan's Kyodo news agency cited unidentified diplomatic sources on Friday as saying Pyongyang had detained a US citizen last month just before he was to leave North Korea, allegedly for having left a Bible in his hotel.

The state has used detained foreigners as diplomatic cards to win economic concessions and high-profile political visits from international dignitaries seeking to win their release.

North Korea has detained and then released other Americans in the past year, including Korean war veteran Merrill Newman, who it expelled after holding him for more than a month, accusing him of war crimes.

In April, the North said it was holding an American named Matthew Todd Miller, who had made "a gross violation of its legal order" after entering the country on a tourist visa.

North Korea is also holding Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary sentenced to 15 years of hard labour on charges of trying to use religion to overthrow its political system.