November 27, 1996 in Nation/World

Captured American Released By North Korea

Associated Press

An American jailed on spy charges for three months in North Korea was freed Wednesday and arrived in Japan with the U.S. congressmen who negotiated his release.

Evan C. Hunziker, 26, of Tacoma stepped off a U.S. Air Force jet at Yokota Air Base on the outskirts of Tokyo.

He waved to the many reporters standing nearby, but didn’t smile and ignored their shouted questions about how he felt.

U.S. Rep. Bill Richardson, who got off the plane with Hunziker, raised Hunziker’s hands in the air.

The freed captive then boarded a car that took him to a base clinic for a medical checkup.

Hunziker had been detained since Aug. 24, when he crossed the border from China into the isolated communist country and was apprehended. North Korea accused him of spying for capitalist rival South Korea.

The United States demanded his release, calling the charges “absolutely ludicrous.”

Hunziker’s relatives said he found Christianity during a spell in jail for drunken driving last year and probably crossed the border to try to convert North Koreans.

Richardson, D-N.M., went to North Korea on Monday to secure Hunziker’s release.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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