DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Jeffrey Fowle knew the risk of leaving a Bible inside a club in North Korea, but he did it anyway. That act got him detained in the socialist country for nearly 6 months.
He was finally released in October. The US Government launched a special mission to get him. After our extensive coverage of his return, 2 NEWS Investigates was asked by several viewers to find out how much was spent to bring him back and after months of waiting for a response we have the answer.
Since October, 2 NEWS Investigates has been trying to get one question answered: how much did it cost to bring Jeffrey Fowle home?
He was detained in North Korea for nearly 6 months. The reason why: he left a Bible in a club intentionally, a violation of North Korean law. He talked about it with us in October.
“I accept the fact that it was risky, people have got in trouble for doing things like that in the past. But I was thinking, hoping God would do the rest..I’d leave the Bible and God would do the rest. I’d be able to waltz out.”
Once he was released by their government, the United States sent a plane to get him. We started our investigation there..tracking down the aircraft that landed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base with Fowle on-board in October.
The information wasn’t easy to get. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Air Force that asked how much was spent on fuel for the trip.
2 NEWS Investigates waited 7 months to get a complete response.
The documents we finally obtained show there were two Air Force Units involved with the special mission.
The first, traveled from Hickam Airforce Base in Hawaii to North Korea where a crew picked up Fowle. They traveled to Guam where they dropped him off. That flight cost tax payers a little more than $101,000 in fuel.
The second unit traveled from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to Guam, with a few stops in between to pick up Fowle. It then continued to Hawaii and Wright Patterson Air Force Base. That leg cost tax payers an estimated $188,000 in fuel.
That means the United States spent nearly $290,000 in just fuel to get Fowle back to the United States. That’s not including the cost of the crew or any hours that went into negotiating his release.
I left messages with Fowle and his attorney this week, but have yet to hear back.
But when he returned in October, I asked him about that cost.
Natalie: “What’s your overall message to the taxpayers who helped fund your trip back and to the diplomats who helped negotiate your release?” Fowle: “Well, deep sincere gratitude for helping me get back out. I understand their concerns and they are logical, logical concerns.”
Fowle also told us in October he would be paying back the City of Moraine for the health insurance it provided his family while he was detained. I checked with city manager David Hicks. He tells me Fowle has repaid them. I’m still waiting on the exact number.