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Friends, Family Hope For Safe Return Of Colusa Man Held By North Koreans

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COLUSA (CBS13) — An 85-year-old Northern California man is being held in North Korea, and his friends and family want to know why and they want him back home.

The U.S. State Department is saying very little about Merrill Newman and why he’s been held captive since October.

Charlie Tuttle can barely believe what he is hearing—his friend Merrill Newman is being held by the North Korean government.

“I couldn’t believe it, it just seems so strange,” he said.

Strange, because this is someone Tuttle has known for nearly 80 years. The two grew up together in the small town of Colusa.

“We played around every afternoon, and he had a bigger front lawn than most of us, and we played touch football after school,” Tuttle said.

The 85-year-old Korean War veteran was once one of the most popular boys in town. At Colusa High, Newman was a three-sport athlete, and in seven different clubs.

Tuttle says he always knew Newman would be one of the most successful people from the school.

“He’s just very intelligent, fun, he has a beautiful wife and just a nice family,” he said.

The family, like Tuttle, is waiting for word. Newman is being held by the North Korean government.

He was set to come back to California when he was pulled off a plane. It’s not known why, only that there may have been some kind of discussion regarding the Korean War involving the Korean War veteran.

The family is still in close contact with the State Department, but the negotiations with North Korea are being handled by the Swedish government.

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