American citizen detained in North Korea set to be deported

An American citizen who claimed he was under the “manipulation” of the CIA when he was detained in North Korea last month will be deported, Pyongyang announced Friday.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency said American Bruce Byron Lowrance was detained on Oct. 16 for illegally entering the country from China. KCNA said the man told investigators he was under the “manipulation” of the U.S. spy agency.

It was not clear if North Korea’s spelling of the man’s name was correct, as past reports from Pyongyang have contained incorrect spellings.

According to Reuters, an American man with the same name was deported from South Korea in November 2017 after being found wandering near the heavily fortified border with the North.

The short KCNA dispatch said North Korea decided to deport the man but did not say why or when he would leave the country.

Friday’s announcement appears to suggest the North still wants to keep talks with the U.S. alive -- even as Pyongyang announced the testing of a new, unspecified weapon amid frustration at the U.S. refusal to lift sanctions.

Pyongyang’s treatment of U.S. citizens has been highly contentious -- and sometimes simply horrific -- at times, and the U.S., South Korea, and others have accused the country of using foreign detainees to wrest diplomatic concessions.

The impending release publicized Friday is in striking contrast to the ordeal of university student Otto Warmbier, who died last year only days after he was released from North Korea in a coma after spending 17 months in captivity.

The North has denied torturing Warmbier, saying the Hermit Kingdom provided medical care "with all sincerity" as Warmbier's health worsened and claiming to be surprised by his death. Warmbier was imprisoned after being accused of stealing a propaganda poster.

Some foreigners have said after their release that their declarations of guilt had been coerced while in North Korean custody.

After a series of provocative nuclear and missile tests last year that fueled fears of war, North Korea entered talks with the United States and South Korea early this year with a vague commitment to nuclear disarmament.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.