“It’s hard not to get your hopes up, but we want to keep our hopes in check,” Tepe said after talking with Hall following Wednesday’s meeting. “Not that we believe Jeff’s release is eminent. But I think it’s a good step.”
Fowle, who Tepe said was detained May 7, is accused of “anti-state” crimes, reportedly because of leaving a Bible in a hotel room after he arriving in the country April 29. Tepe said he could not confirm the reason Fowle is being detained and said Hall indicated to him no trial date had been set.
Fowle’s health is “as good as can be expected” for a detainee, Tepe said.
Hall’s meeting in New York comes a day after Fowle’s family issued an apology and a plea to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to free him.
Tepe said Fowle’s wife and three children have written letters to U.S. President Barack Obama, and former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter seeking their help with his release.
Tepe said he has also been in recent contact with U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, about Fowle’s case.
The state department, meanwhile, said this week it is working with Sweden, which handles consular matters for Americans in North Korea, on seeking the release of Fowle, Matthew Todd Miller and Kenneth Bae.
The Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang visited Fowle June 20, and regularly requests consular access to all U.S. citizens in DPRK custody, according to an email from the state department.