Obama: 'Wonderful day' for two freed Americans

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North Korea Releases 2 U.S. Citizens


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The two remaining Americans who had been held in North Korea have been released and are on their way home, U.S. officials said Saturday.

A spokesman for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Clapper was accompanying Americans Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller on their journey back to the United States.

Bae and Miller were the last Americans held by North Korea following the release last month of Jeffrey Fowle, an Ohio resident detained for nearly six months.

Miller, who's from Bakersfield, California, was serving a six-year jail term on charges of espionage, after he allegedly ripped his tourist visa at Pyongyang's airport in April and demanded asylum. North Korea said Miller had wanted to experience prison life so that he could secretly investigate North Korea's human rights situation.

Bae, who's from Lynnwood, Washington, is a Korean-American missionary with health problems. He was serving a 15-year sentence for alleged anti-government activities. He was detained in 2012 while leading a tour group to a North Korea economic zone.

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Obama: 'Wonderful day' for two freed Americans
A conservative anti-North Korean activist holds a placard calling for the release of detained US missionary Kenneth Bae following a protest against the North Korean regime, in Seoul on Febraury 16, 2014. Rare talks between the rival Koreas ended on an even rarer note of agreement February 14, allowing an under-threat reunion for divided families to go ahead and fuelling hopes of further constructive engagement. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
Former US basketball player Dennis Rodman shows pictures of him reportedly with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to media as he arrives at Beijing International Airport on September 7, 2013. Rodman returned to China from Pyongyang on September 7 after a five-day trip when he met Kim Jong-Un, but without jailed American Kenneth Bae. AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
Former US basketball player Dennis Rodman (L) shows pictures of him reportedly with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to media as he arrives at Beijing International Airport on September 7, 2013. Rodman returned to China from Pyongyang on September 7 after a five-day trip when he met Kim Jong-Un, but without jailed American Kenneth Bae. AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
Passersby watch a local television broadcast in Seoul on May 2, 2013 showing a report and picture of Kenneth Bae (R), a Korean-American tour operator detained in North Korea, against the background of a North Korean flag painted on the wall of a building in Pyongyang. North Korea said on May 2 it had sentenced a Korean-American tour operator to 15 years' hard labour for 'hostile acts', stoking tensions with the United States, which had pleaded for his release. AFP PHOTO / KIM JAE-HWAN (Photo credit should read KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images)
American missionary Kenneth Bae speaks to reporters at Pyongyang Friendship Hospital in Pyongyang Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. Bae, 45, who has been jailed in North Korea for more than a year, appealed for the U.S. to do its best to secure his release. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
A notice of a prayer vigil for for Kenneth Bae, sits next to a letter from Bae, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, at the home of Kenneth's mother in Lynnwood, Wash. Bae, an American tour operator and Christian missionary, has been detained in North Korea since being arrested in November, 2012, and Chung and her family are renewing calls for his release as concerns about his health increase. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Terri Chung holds a notice of a prayer vigil for her brother, Kenneth Bae, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, in Lynnwood, Wash. Bae, an American tour operator and Christian missionary, has been detained in North Korea since being arrested in November, 2012, and Chung and her family are renewing calls for his release as concerns about his health increase. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Korean War veteran Merrill Newman (L), accompanied by his wife Lee (C) and son Jeff, speaks to the press after arriving at San Francisco International Airport on December 7, 2013 following his release from detention in North Korea. Pyongyang deported Newman after detaining him for two months for 'hostile acts' against the communist country. Newman was deported 'from a humanitarian viewpoint', according to the official Korean Central News Agency, citing his 'sincere repentance' as well as his age and health condition. AFP PHOTO / SUSANA BATES (Photo credit should read SUSANA BATES/AFP/Getty Images)
Korean War veteran Merrill Newman (C-L), 85, walks with his wife Lee (C-R) and son Jeff (R) after arriving at San Francisco International Airport on December 7, 2013 following his release from detention in North Korea. Pyongyang deported Newman after detaining him for two months for 'hostile acts' against the communist country. Newman was deported 'from a humanitarian viewpoint', according to the official Korean Central News Agency, citing his 'sincere repentance' as well as his age and health condition. AFP PHOTO / SUSANA BATES (Photo credit should read SUSANA BATES/AFP/Getty Images)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014 photo from a video shot by a North Korean TV crew employed locally by AP Television News, Matthew Miller, an American man recently sentenced by North Korea to six years of hard labor, speaks during an interview in Pyongyang, North Korea. Under close guard and with only enough time to respond to one question, Miller spoke briefly to an Associated Press Television News journalist at a Pyongyang hotel, where he had been brought to make a phone call to his family. It was his first appearance since he was convicted Sept. 14 of entering the country illegally to commit espionage. (AP Photo/APTN)
CORRECTS SOURCE TO APTN - This image taken from video shows Matthew Miller in North Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014. The American man recently sentenced by North Korea to six years of hard labor says he is digging in fields eight hours a day and being kept in isolation, but that so far his health isn't deteriorating. Under close guard and with only enough time to respond to one question, 24-year-old Matthew Miller spoke briefly to an Associated Press Television News journalist at a Pyongyang hotel, where he had been brought to make a phone call to his family. (AP Photo/APTN)
CORRECTS SOURCE TO APTN - This image taken from video shows Matthew Miller in North Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014. The American man recently sentenced by North Korea to six years of hard labor says he is digging in fields eight hours a day and being kept in isolation, but that so far his health isn't deteriorating. Under close guard and with only enough time to respond to one question, 24-year-old Matthew Miller spoke briefly to an Associated Press Television News journalist at a Pyongyang hotel, where he had been brought to make a phone call to his family. (AP Photo/APTN)
Matthew Miller, a U.S. citizen, sits on the dock at the Supreme Court during his trial in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. North Korea's Supreme Court on Sunday sentenced Miller to six years of hard labor for entering the country illegally and trying to commit espionage. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
Handcuffed Matthew Miller, a U.S. citizen, leaves after his trial at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. North Korea's Supreme Court on Sunday sentenced Miller to six years of hard labor for entering the country illegally and trying to commit espionage. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
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Fowle had been detained after leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the hope that it would reach the country's underground Christian community.

The announcement about Bae and Miller came one day before Obama travels to Asia for a three-country visit.

The development does not mean a change in U.S. posture regarding North Korea's disputed nuclear program, and the North still must show it is serious and ready to abide by commitments toward denuclearization and improved human rights, said a senior Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss national security matters.

The official said there was no quid pro quo involved in the Americans' release.

The U.S. notified allies of Clapper's trip to North Korea and alerted members of the congressional leadership once his visit was underway, the official said.

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AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

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