North Korea has released two American detainees, Matthew Todd Miller and Kenneth Bae. The men have been allowed to leave the communist nation and their release was secured via a secret mission by top U.S. intelligence officials.
Bae and Miller flew back from North Korea on a U.S. military plane with National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who escorted the released Americans and aided in securing their journey home, and landed at McChord Field in Washington state shortly after 9 p.m. PT on Saturday, November 8.
Bae, 46, is a Christian missionary of Korean descent, who had been held in the combative communist nation since 2012, when he was accused of attempting to usurp the government under Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il. In April 2013, Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for his alleged crimes.
Miller, 24, is from California and was serving a six-year prison term for alleged espionage after his arrival at the Pyongyang airport in April 2014, upon which he reportedly destroyed his visa and requested asylum. In September 2014, North Korea sentenced him to prison on the contention he deliberately conspired to get arrested in order to research the human rights situation in the country’s prison system.
As North Korea has released two American detainees in the wake of secret negotiations, Bae, the Christian missionary who was held captive in the communist country for two years, was the first to disembark from the plane onto U.S. soil. Followed soon after, Miller, who was detained for seven months under somewhat suspicious circumstances, stepped off the craft. Both men were greeted by friends and family awaiting their return at Joint Base Lewis McChord outside Seattle, WA on Saturday night.
Bae spoke to the media shortly after his arrival and recounted his captivity in relatively positive terms. He said it was a growth experience, a life lesson in maturity, and he lost a significant amount of weight while detained. Moreover, the missionary, who was a tour leader at the time of his arrest, suffered some health issues during his imprisonment. North Korean officials moved him to a hospital to address his health concerns last summer. Bae thanked his loved ones and the U.S. government for their support and securing his release, as well as the North Korean government for agreeing to his release.
Miller and his loved ones refrained from speaking to the media following his return to U.S. soil. Whether or not the circumstances surrounding his six-year prison term for alleged espionage after his arrival at the Pyongyang airport in April 2014 played into that decision is unknown at this time.
North Korea has released two American detainees, Matthew Todd Miller and Kenneth Bae, and the men have been allowed to leave the communist nation as their release was secured via a secret mission by top U.S. intelligence officials. According to sources, the release of Bae and Miller only occurred after the national intelligence director engaged in discussions with North Korean officials. Moreover, it is believed they were the last two American detainees known to be held in North Korea.
By Leigh Haugh
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