N. Korea Detains Another American—and He's 85

Palo Alto tourist Merrill Newman has been held for 3 weeks
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2013 6:37 PM CST
Two North Korean soldiers watch the south side of the border village of Panmunjom in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

(Newser) Kenneth Bae may have some company: North Korea detained an 85-year-old American tourist from California three weeks ago, reports the Bay Area News Group. The report says Merrill Newman—who fought in the Korean War—got yanked off a tourist plane that was about to leave the country last month. An avid traveler, Newman had gone to the country with a Palo Alto neighbor via a tourist company based in Beijing. "I hope that the North Koreans see this as a humanitarian matter and allow him to return to his family as soon as possible," says the neighbor, who called the detention a "terrible misunderstanding."

Neither North Korea nor the US State Department has confirmed the detention, notes the San Francisco Chronicle, but the US agency said it was aware of the reports and issued a travel advisory to Americans warning of "arbitrary" arrests in the North. Another friend of Newman's says the detainee's wife is trying to arrange to get her husband's medications to him. The Chronicle, meanwhile, quotes a Berkeley professor who thinks the North might be looking for attention because of all the fuss over the current international nuclear talks with Iran.

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