North Korea says Kim Jong Un freed US detainee on Obama request

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea said on Wednesday that "criminal" US detainee Jeffrey Fowle was freed on the orders of leader Kim Jong Un following "repeated requests" from US President Barack Obama.

In a brief despatch, the North's official KCNA news agency said Fowle, 56, had been handed over to the US authorities in accordance with relevant legal procedures.

"Kim Jong-Un, first chairman of the National Defence Commission ... took such a special measure as setting free Jeffrey Edward Fowle, US criminal, taking into consideration the repeated requests of US President Obama," the despatch said.

Fowle, one of three Americans detained in North Korea, was released on Tuesday and allowed to fly home in a US government plane that flew to Pyongyang.

Fowle had entered the North in April and was detained after apparently leaving a Bible in the bathroom of a nightclub in the northern port of Chongjin.

North Korea regards unsanctioned proselytising or missionary work as a criminal act.