Two US citizens have been freed from detention by the North Korean government and are returning to the US, the office of the US Director of National Intelligence and the State Department have said.
Matthew Todd Miller and Kenneth Bae had both been sentenced to several years of hard labour for crimes against North Korea.
The State Department said that they had been held by the Pyongyang authorities for two years and seven months, respectively.
In its statement, the department said: “The safety and welfare of US citizens abroad is the Department of State’s highest priority, and the US has long called on DPRK [North Korea] authorities to release these individuals on humanitarian grounds.
“We join their families and friends in welcoming them home.”
The statement also thanked the government of Sweden for its efforts to help secure the freedom of Bae and Miller.
“The Department of State reiterates our strong recommendation against all travel by US citizens to the DPRK,” it said.
Miller, who is from California, was serving a six-year jail term on charges of espionage, after he allegedly ripped up his tourist visa at Pyongyang’s airport in April and demanded asylum.
Bae, who is from Washington state, is a Korean-American missionary with health problems. He was serving a 15-year sentence for alleged anti-government activities.
The two were the last Americans held by North Korea following the release last month of Chris Fowle. Fowle was released by Pyongyang on October 21.