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Merrill Newman, deported from North Korea, on plane to California

Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old war veteran held prisoner in North Korea for the last six weeks, should arrive back in California on Saturday, a day after being freed, to the relief of his family.

Newman, of Palo Alto, Calif., is now on a United Airlines flight bound for San Francisco.

Newman’s son, standing outside his home in Pasadena, Calif., late Friday, thanked those who helped with and prayed for his father’s release.

“This is a great moment for us as a family, and it will be even better when we have a chance to be back together in a few hours,” Jeffrey Newman said.

“After Merrill comes home and has a chance to get a well-deserved rest, we will have more to say about his unusual and difficult journey.”

A retired tech executive, Newman was pulled off an airplane about to leave the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on Oct. 26 at the end of a 10-day tour, after speaking to his guides there about his service in a clandestine anti-communist army unit during the 1950-53 Korean War.

Jeffrey Newman urged people to remember another U.S. citizen whose fate was unknown in the hermetic country.

“We . . . ask that you not forget another American, Kenneth Bae, who is still being held in (North Korea), and we hope that he too will be allowed to join his family soon,” Newman said during a brief news conference.

Bae has been held by North Korea for more than a year for missionary activities, which are illegal in the country.

The State Department confirmed that Newman had been released and had reached Beijing on his way back to the United States.

His son thanked the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang for helping his father while he was in custody.

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©2013 Los Angeles Times

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