American Jeffrey Fowle back at Ohio home after half-year detention in North Korea

Jeffrey Fowle, who was detained for more than seven months in North Korea, is greeted by his family after arriving at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio on Oct 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Jeffrey Fowle, who was detained for more than seven months in North Korea, is greeted by his family after arriving at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio on Oct 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

AUSTIN, TEXAS (Reuters) - American Jeffrey Fowle returned to his home in southern Ohio on Wednesday after a tearful reunion with this family at a US Air Force base in the state, and his lawyer said he was in good health after a nearly half-year detention in North Korea.

Mr Fowle, 56, had been one of three Americans held by mercurial and secretive North Korea, which typically has tried to use the release of foreign captives as a way to build domestic political support for its leaders.

"Jeff would like you to know that he was treated well by the government of the DPRK and that he's currently in good health," lawyer Timothy Tepe said in comments broadcast live by Dayton, Ohio-based television station WDTN.

Mr Fowle, dressed in a brown jacket, was flanked by his wife and children as he stood near Mr Tepe, but did not speak.

Mr Fowle needs time to adjust before addressing the media about his ordeal, Mr Tepe said, adding that the family wanted to offer its thanks to the US State Department, the Embassy of Sweden and others for securing his release.

Mr Fowle arrived on a US government plane at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, where his three children and wife shared tears and hugs with him on the tarmac.

The arrival of Mr Fowle was kept secret from the children to surprise them, Mr Tepe said.

A special service was planned for Sunday at the Urbancrest Baptist Church, where the family worships.

"We are rejoicing that Jeff Fowle has been released," said Mr Tom Pendergrass, senior pastor at the church.

North Korea, where health problems of young leader Kim Jong Un have raised question about his grip on power, tried to show that the release came after pleading from Washington.

"Kim Jong Un, first chairman of the National Defense Commission of the DPRK, took such a special measure as setting free Jeffrey Edward Fowle, US criminal, taking into consideration the repeated requests of US President Obama," its official KCNA news agency said.