US confirms that third American detained in N. Korea

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States on Friday confirmed that North Korea has detained a third American and called on the communist state to release the trio.

"We are aware that a US citizen has been detained by North Korea," State Department spokesman Marie Harf told reporters, adding: "We continue to actively seek the release of all three."

Ms Harf said that she could not confirm the detainee's name due to privacy considerations.

The official Korean Central News Agency identified him as Jeffrey Edwards Fowle.

North Korea, which has no diplomatic relations with the United States, said it had detained Mr Fowle for "hostile activities" and was questioning him.

Japanese news agency Kyodo, citing diplomatic sources, said the detainee had been part of a tour group and was held in mid-May after he left a Bible at a hotel.

Mr Kim Jong Un's totalitarian regime tightly controls all religious activity. Another of the detained Americans, Kenneth Bae, was described by a North Korean court as a militant Christian evangelist.