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Family: Detained American Jeffrey Fowle was a tourist in North Korea

By Brian Todd, CNN
updated 6:35 PM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two other Americans have been detained in North Korea
  • Jeffrey Fowle is married with three children
  • His family says he loves experiencing new cultures
  • North Korea forbids independent religious activities

(CNN) -- The family of a U.S. citizen who was detained last week in North Korea said Monday they are "anxious for his return," according to a written statement.

The family of Jeffrey Fowle, 56, said: "Jeffrey loves to travel and loves the adventure of experiencing different cultures and seeing new places."

Fowle has been married for 14 years and has three children, the statement said.

According to CNN affiliate WDTN, he was detained for leaving a Bible where he was staying.

"Mrs. Fowle and the children miss Jeffrey very much and are anxious for his return home," the family said.

They confirmed Fowle, who is from Miamisburg, Ohio, was part of a tour group that went to North Korea.

On Friday, the secretive state, without going into detail, said through a state-run news agency that Fowle had been detained for breaking a law.

The U.S. State Department said it was "aware of reports that a third U.S. citizen was detained in North Korea." But it declined to provide any further information, saying it couldn't share details about specific cases without written consent from an individual.

Other Americans held

North Korea said in late April it was holding a different American man, who it said came to the country seeking asylum.

He tore his tourist visa and shouted that "he would seek asylum" and "came to the DPRK (North Korea) after choosing it as a shelter," state-run news agency KCNA said.

KCNA identified that man as Miller Matthew Todd, who it says was taken into custody on April 10. American sources identified him as Matthew Todd Miller.

The U.S. State Department said at the time that it was aware of the report and had been in touch with Sweden, which represents American interests in North Korea, about the matter. It declined to disclose any further information.

North Korea is also holding Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary who was sentenced to 15 years hard labor in 2013 by a court that said he had carried out acts aimed at bringing down the regime of leader Kim Jong Un.

Although North Korea contains a number of state-controlled churches, the totalitarian regime forbids independent religious activities, viewing them as potential threats to its authority.

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