North Korea confirms detention of U.S. citizen: State Department

November 22, 2013
Retired finance executive Merrill Newman is seen in photo taken in Palo Alto, California
Retired finance executive Merrill Newman is seen in a photo taken in Palo Alto, California in 2005. North Korea has detained Newman, an 85-year-old Korean War veteran from California visiting the country as a tourist, pulling him off a plane as he was about to leave the reclusive nation last month, his son said. REUTERS/Nicholas Wright /Palo Alto Weekly

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea has confirmed through Swedish officials in Pyongyang that it has detained a U.S. citizen, a State Department official said on Friday, after reports that an 85-year-old California man was pulled off a plane as he was about to leave the country.

"Our Swedish protecting power has been informed of the detention of a U.S. citizen," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

The family of Merrill Newman, a retiree from Palo Alto, California, and Korean War veteran, said he was taken away by North Korean officials.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Doina Chiacu)