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December 01, 2013 AT 4:30 AM
Merrill Newman, A former U.S. special forces officer, who trained and fought alongside anti-communist guerillas during the Korean War, took major risks returning to North Korea, say his comrades-in-arms. but some North Korea experts expect the elderly veteran could soon be released from detention in the capital Pyongyang. State media recently showed a video and letter in which Newman apologized for war crimes during the Korean War and "hostile acts" during his recent trip. The White House urged North Korea Saturday to consider Newman's "advanced age and health conditions," and allow his return home, said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.