LOS ANGELES - The wife of an 85-year-old American man detained in North Korea appealed to the reclusive Asian nation to free him and allow him to return home to California for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, in a US television interview on Monday.
Merrill Newman, a veteran of the Korean War who had been visiting North Korea as a tourist, has been held since authorities in Pyongyang on Oct. 26 took him off an Air Koryo plane that had been set to depart the country.
"I would like to remind them that this is the 30th day of his detention, that we're looking forward as a family to being together on Thanksgiving and we need to have Merrill back at the head of the table for the holidays," Merrill Newman's wife, Lee Newman, told CNN.
"And we ask respectfully for them to release him and let him come home," she added.
Merrill Newman's detention was first revealed last week, and the US State Department has since publicly called on North Korea to release Newman and another American, Kenneth Bae, 45, who has been held in the country for over a year.
Newman was detained a day after he and his tour guide had been interviewed by North Korean authorities at a meeting in which Newman's service during the Korean War was discussed, his son, Jeff Newman, told CNN last week.
Experts on North Korea have expressed surprise that an elderly American on a sightseeing trip - one of hundreds of US citizens who visit that country every year - would be singled out for detention simply for having served in the Korean War.
In a direct message to her husband on CNN, Lee Newman said tearfully, "We're missing you and we want you home."