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Jeffrey Fowle was detained for violating its laws after entering the secretive state in April, bringing the number of U.S. citizens held by Pyongyang to three.Reuters

US citizen Jeffrey Fowle, who was detained in North Korea for leaving a Bible at his hotel, has been released and is on his way home, according to a senior state department official.

Fowle, one of three Americans being held in the hermit state, was picked by a US government plane before flying to Guam, CNN has confirmed. State department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said the US is still trying to free Americans Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae.

The 56-year-old from Ohio entered North Korea on 29 April. He left a Bible in a hotel room, considered a provocative act in North Korea where freedom of religion is limited.

A spokesman for his family denied he was on a mission for his church. North Korea said it was detaining Fowle in June for violating the law by acting "contrary to the purpose of tourism".

In an interview with CNN, Fowle said the charges were "violations of DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) law, which stems from me trying to leave a Bible". He said he had a "desperate situation".

Miller, 24, entered North Korea on 10 April with a tourist visa but he allegedly tore it up at the airport on arrival, shouting that he wanted to seek asylum. He is accused of a "gross violation of its legal order".

North Korea has been holding Korean-American missionary Bae since November 2012. He was convicted and sentenced to 15 years of hard labour, also for "hostile acts" against the state.