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

This 2005 photo provided by the Palo Alto Weekly shows Merrill Newman, a retired finance executive and Red Cross volunteer, in Palo Alto, Calif. An 85-year-old American veteran of the Korean War has been detained in North Korea since last month. The son of Merrill Newman told the San Jose Mercury News on Wednesday his father was taken off a plane set to leave North Korea on Oct. 26. Jeffrey Newman said no reason was given. (AP Photo/Palo Alto Weekly, Nicholas Wright)

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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)

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