US Citizen Held Prisoner in North Korea: Report

Activist says Kenneth Bae detained while leading tour into the country
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2012 8:20 AM CST
North Koreans flip colored cards to form a giant North Korean flag during an Arirang mass games performance in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

(Newser) – North Korea has been holding a 44-year-old American citizen prisoner for about a month, a human rights activist in South Korea alleged today. Kenneth Bae was reportedly detained while leading a tour group into the People's Republic, something he'd done several times before without a problem, activist Do Hee-youn tells the New York Times, saying he'd learned of the incident through a mutual friend in China. Authorities allowed the five European tourists he was guiding to leave without incident.

One unnamed source told a South Korean newspaper that officials had caught Bae with a computer hard drive that they suspected contained sensitive information. Bae had an interest in helping the orphans often seen in North Korean markets, Do said, so "the most plausible scenario I can think of is that he took some pictures of the orphans, and the North Korean authorities considered that an act of anti-North Korean propaganda." The State Department says it's aware of the reports, but wouldn't comment further.

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