North Korea has deported 85-year-old former US Korean War vet Merrill Newman, who was detained since October, after he’d published an ‘apology’ for his ‘war crimes’, Reuters reports. After his release, Newman was filmed walking through Beijing’s airport, smiling and waving to the press surrounding him before boarding his plane home.
Merrill Newman, who served as a military adviser helping pro-South Korea guerillas during the 1950-53 war, was deported due to humanitarian considerations, North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Saturday. The report cited the veteran’s “sincere repentance,” his age and health condition.
The American was sent to China, the destination he had intended to travel to next, when North Korean authorities detained him October 26.
Newman’s release came after he’d published a written apology confessing to “masterminding espionage” and being “involved in killings of service personnel of the Korean People’s Army and innocent civilians” in the war.
His family told reporters that Newman was in North Korea for a 10-day trip wherein he intended to meet with surviving soldiers from the war and pray for the dead.
US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf used the occasion to once again stress (although Dennis Rodman already tried) the US’s call for North Korea’s release of American civilian Kenneth Bae, who was imprisoned for “crimes aimed to topple the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”.
“I’m very glad to be on my way home,” Newman said to reporters. “I feel good, I feel good. I want to go home to see my wife.”