North Korea to free US citizen Bruce Byron Lowrance, detained since October for illegally entering country
- Announcement suggests that North Korea still intends to improve ties with the United States despite stalled nuclear diplomacy
- In May, North Korea released three American detainees in a goodwill gesture weeks before leader Kim Jong-un’s summit with President Donald Trump
North Korea said Friday that it will deport Bruce Byron Lowrance, an American citizen it detained in Pyongyang one month ago for illegally entering the country.
In response to the announcement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “The United States appreciates the cooperation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the embassy of Sweden in facilitating the release of an American citizen.” He did not identify Lowrance.
The announcement suggests that North Korea still intends to improve ties with the United States despite stalled nuclear diplomacy. In the past, North Korean often held American citizens it arrested for similar charges for months before high-profile US figures travelled to Pyongyang to secure their freedom.
In May, North Korea released three American detainees in a goodwill gesture weeks before leader Kim Jong-un’s summit with President Donald Trump in Singapore in June. The three Americans returned home on a flight with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Their release was a striking contrast to the fate of Otto Warmbier, an American university student who died days after he was released from North Korea in a coma after 17 months in captivity.
On Friday, the Korean Central News Agency said the US citizen was detained on October 16 for illegally entering the country from China. It said the US citizen told investigators that he was under the direction of the Central Intelligence Agency.
It said North Korea decided to deport him but did not say when.