An 85-year-old US veteran of the Korean war has been released by North Korea after weeks of detention, state-run media reported on Saturday.

Merrill Newman was “deported from a humanitarian viewpoint,” KCNA news agency said.

Merrill Newman was taken off a plane shortly before departure on October 26 from Pyongyang and detained. His relatives said they suspect the arrest was connected with his service in the 1950-53 war.

KCNA released a story and video on December 1 showing Mr. Newman’s “confession to indelible crimes” against Korea.

The US State Department said it was pleased that Mr. Newman has been allowed to depart North Korea and rejoin his family.

“We welcome the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) DPRK’s decision to release him,” it said.

The State Department also urged Pyongyang to release another US citizen, Kenneth Bae, serving a 15-year prison sentence after his arrest a year ago on charges of committing hostile acts.

“We call on the DPRK once again to pardon and grant Mr. Bae special amnesty and immediately release him as a humanitarian gesture so that he too can return home to his family,” spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

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