UPDATE 6 (2014-6-30): KCNA (see also here) reports the following:
Suspicions about Hostile Acts by American against DPRK Confirmed
Pyongyang, June 30 (KCNA) — The Korean Central News Agency made public the following report on Monday:
The relevant organ of the DPRK has made investigation into American tourists Miller Matthew Todd and Jeffrey Edward Fowle who were detained while perpetrating hostile acts after entering the territory of the DPRK.
According to the results of the investigation, suspicions about their hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their testimonies.
The relevant organ of the DPRK is carrying on the investigation into them and making preparations for bringing them before court on the basis of the already confirmed charges.
Contact with an official looking after consular affairs, treatment, etc. in the course of investigation are being made in line with the laws of the relevant country.
Here is coverage of the announcement in the Wall Street Journal,
Reuters offers this helpful summary of related events:
HAPHAZARD LEGAL SYSTEM
North Korea’s haphazard and inconsistent legal system makes it difficult to predict the outcome for the detained tourists.
It has detained and then released other Americans in the past year, including Korean War veteran Merrill Newman, whom it expelled last December after a month-long detention based on accusations of war crimes related to his service history.
Australian missionary John Short was arrested in February this year for leaving copies of bible verses at various tourist sites during his stay. Short, 75, and Newman, 86, were released on account of their advanced age and health condition, state media said in the wake of published confessions from the two men.
Another U.S. national, Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary who had been arrested in November 2012, was convicted and sentenced by North Korea’s supreme court to 15 years hard labor last year.
Pyongyang has detained a number of U.S. citizens in the past, using them to extract visits by high-profile figures, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton who in 2009 helped secure the release of two U.S. journalists who had secretly entered the country by crossing into the country from China.
The journalists, Laura Ling and Korean-American Euna Lee, were released after being tried by a city court in Pyongyang and given a ten-year hard labor sentence.
But North Korea has twice canceled visits by Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, to discuss Bae’s case.
UPDATE 5 (2014-6-8): Jonathan Cheng writes more information about Mr. Fowle in the Wall Street Journal:
Jeffrey Edward Fowle, the American citizen detained by North Korea, is a municipal road-maintenance man from southwestern Ohio with a globe-trotting past.
Mr. Fowle, who was arrested by North Korea after arriving for a tour on Apr. 29, is a 56-year-old resident of Miamisburg, Ohio, a city of about 20,000 residents on the outskirts of Dayton. He attends church in nearby West Carrollton, Ohio, and repairs streets for Moraine, Ohio, population 6,307.
But Mr. Fowle’s small-town roots belied a keen interest for the wider world. Before venturing into North Korea, Mr. Fowle made regular trips to Russia with his wife and traveled to war-torn Sarajevo in early 1997, less than a year after the four-year siege of the Bosnian city was lifted.
Timothy Tepe, a Cincinnati lawyer who represents Mr. Fowle’s family, said Mr. Fowle wasn’t on a mission for Urbancrest Baptist Church in Lebanon, Ohio, where he attended church. Mr. Tepe didn’t immediately reply to requests for further comment.
Joseph Shihady, a pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in West Carrollton, where Mr. Fowle attended services on Sundays and Wednesday evenings, said Mr. Fowle traveled to North Korea as a tourist.
“He’s a fine fellow, and we’re praying that he’ll get home safely,” Mr. Shihady said. “We know he’s in danger, and we’re concerned for him.”
In Washington, the State Department said that it was aware of reports about a third U.S. citizen who had been detained in North Korea, but declined to offer more details.
Mr. Fowle and his Russian immigrant wife live with their three children and the wife’s mother, according to a September 2010 interview with Mr. Fowle by the Dayton Daily News.
WHIO, a Dayton-based CBS affiliate, on Saturday cited a family friend as saying that Mr. Fowle’s wife had tried to dissuade him from going to North Korea, calling it too dangerous.
During his eight-day trip to the former Yugoslavia in 1997, Mr. Fowle spent four days in downtown Sarajevo with a Muslim family whose apartment walls were scarred by shrapnel following a missile attack, according to an earlier interview Mr. Fowle gave to the Dayton Daily News.
Nearly two decades later, Mr. Fowle finds himself at the center of a diplomatic tangle. Rep. Michael Turner (R., Ohio), which represents Mr. Fowle’s town, said in a statement that he was “deeply troubled” that Mr. Fowle had been held.
Late last month, North Korea sentenced a Christian missionary from South Korea, Kim Jung-wook, to a life of hard labor, following his October arrest on charges of working to overthrow the regime. Seoul had pleaded for his release.
UPDATE 4 (2014-6-6): WDNT in Ohio has some information on Mr. Fowle and a photo of him and his family.
The Christian Science Monitor has more.
UPDATE 3 (2014-6-6): Choe Sang-hun and Rick Gladstone report in the New York Times that Mr Fowle is a “A municipal worker from Ohio on a tour of North Korea”.
The Korean Central News Agency provided no further details about Mr. Fowle but local media in the Dayton, Ohio, area said that he was a 56-year-old municipal worker in the suburb of Moraine and had a wife and three children. The website of the Dayton Daily News said the Moraine city manager, David Hicks, had described him as a longtime employee. Telephone messages left on Mr. Fowle’s home telephone answering machine and with Mr. Hicks’s office were not returned.
UPDATE 2 (2014-6-6): The Guardian reports (via other sources) that Mr. Fowle was being detained for leaving a Bible in his hotel room.
Jonathan Cheng reports in the Wall Street Journal.
UPDATE 1 (2014-6-6): According to KCNA:
American Citizen Detained in DPRK
Pyongyang, June 6 (KCNA) — American citizen Jeffrey Edward Fowle entered the DPRK as a tourist on April 29 and acted in violation of the DPRK law, contrary to the purpose of tourism during his stay.
A relevant organ of the DPRK detained him and is investigating him.
ORIGINAL POST (2014-6-5): According to Reuters:
North Korea detained another U.S. citizen in mid-May, bringing the total to three currently being held in the country, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said on Friday, quoting diplomatic sources.
The man was part of a tour group who was detained just before he was set to leave the country, according to the sources.
In April, the North said it had detained an American, Matthew Todd Miller, who had arranged a private tour of the country through a U.S. company. North Korea is also holding Kenneth Bae, a Korean American missionary who was arrested in 2012 and has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor on charges of state subversion.