The KCNA report stated that investigators determined that “Newman entered the DPRK with a wrong understanding of it and perpetrated a hostile act against it.”

“Taking into consideration his admittance of the act committed by him on the basis of his wrong understanding (and the) apology made by him for it, his sincere repentance of it and his advanced age and health condition, the above-said institution deported him from the country from a humanitarian viewpoint,” the official North Korean report added.

On Thursday, Harf said American officials had spoken the previous day with relatives of Newman and Kenneth Bae, another American being held in North Korea, but added little else.

Hours later, Harf issued a statement saying Washington was “pleased that Mr. Merrill Newman has been allowed to depart the DPRK and rejoin his family.”