No appearances by US vet home from NKorea

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The 85-year-old U.S. veteran detained for weeks by North Korea didn’t make any public appearances or statements about his ordeal Sunday, a day after returning home to California.

The family of Merrill Newman also didn’t respond to an email from The Associated Press requesting an interview. His son, Jeff Newman, said his father planned to talk about his experience in greater detail sometime later after recuperating.

Newman arrived at San Francisco International Airport from Beijing shortly before 9 a.m. Saturday and was greeted by his wife, son and friends.

“I’m delighted to be home,” he said. “It’s been a great homecoming. I’m tired, but ready to be with my family.”

Merrill Newman was detained in late October at the end of a 10-day trip to North Korea, a visit that came six decades after he oversaw a group of South Korean wartime guerrillas during the 1950-53 Korean War.

He also thanked the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing for helping secure his release. He then declined to answer questions about his detention and left the airport with his family. He hasn’t been seen or heard from publicly since.

Last month, Newman read from an awkwardly worded alleged confession that apologized for, among other things, killing North Koreans during the war. Analysts questioned whether the statement was coerced, and former South Korean guerrillas who had worked with Newman and fought behind enemy lines during the war disputed some of the details.

North Korea cited Newman’s age and medical condition in allowing him to leave the country.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat whose district encompasses Newman’s Palo Alto home, said on CNN Sunday morning that North Korea’s reason for detaining Newman may never be completely explained. He said North Korea’s internal politics, the country’s desire for global attention and other wants could have prompted Newman’s detention.

“They often will grab people to gain attention, to get a world leader to come and rescue them from North Korea,” Schiff said. “It may be a shout to the rest of the world that we want you to pay attention to us again and our nuclear program or it may be simply confined to something Mr. Newman said that caused him to be taken off the plane.”

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