US politician Bill Richardson wasn’t able to meet the detained US citizen whom he cited as one the reasons for his controversial trip to North Korea, he told reporters at Beijing airport.

The former governor of New Mexico left for North Korea with Google executive Eric Schmidt on what he describes as a “private, humanitarian mission” aimed at securing the release of Kenneth Bae, who was arrested last November on unspecified crimes against the state, official media reports.

The delegation had met with North Korean officials during their four-day trip which included a rare firsthand look at how a few privileged citizens use the Internet in the reclusive nation. Schmidt urged the isolated nation to grant more open access to the Internet.

Richardson called for the “fair and humane treatment” of Bae and though he didn’t had the chance to meet him, North Korean officials have given assurances on the detainee’s good health. Officials from Pyongyang also gave him permission to pass on a letter from Bae’s son.

North Korea has in the past agreed to hand over detainees to high-profile delegations, AFP reports.