Christians Released From North Korean Prison

The remaining two of three Americans who were recently imprisoned by the North Korean government arrived back on American soil on Saturday.

Jeffrey E. Fowle, Kenneth Bae, and Matthew Miller were all unexpectedly released after serving time in government labor camps on separate incidents, convicted of committing “anti-government activities” against the  North Korean government. President Obama dispatched National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper Jr. to negotiate for the latter two prisoners’ release. A third man, Jeffrey E. Fowle, was released in October with the help of Swedish officials.

Mr. Bae, 46, a Christian missionary from Washington state, had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after he was convicted on charges of espionage and “anti-state” activities. He was accused of using a Christian evangelical youth organization to preach against the North Korean government and to topple the regime. Officials said he was planning a “religious coup d’état.”

Mr. Miller, 24, a native of Bakersfield, CA, had been sentenced to six years of hard labor by North Korea’s Supreme Court. He was convicted of “hostile acts” after he’d torn up his visa and passport upon entering North Korea seven months ago. The charge was “unruly behavior;” however, it may have been suspected by the Pyongyang government that Miller was breaking the law intentionally in order to report on conditions at one of the country’s prison camps.

Mr. Fowle, 56, an Ohio municipal worker, entered North Korea on a tourist visa and was arrested after he left his Bible in a restroom. The act is considered by the government as proselytizing, which is a crime there.

Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller were released on November 8. Mr. Fowle was released on October 21.

Mr. Bae thanked the Obama administration and everyone who prayed for him and his family while he was detained.

“I just want to say thank you all for supporting me and lifting me up…I’m standing strong because of you”.

Many thanks to The Guardian, The New York Times, NBC News, The Washington Post, KOIN6, and USA Today .

Photo by Ted S. Warren, AP