3 Americans Held in N. Korea: Situation Is Urgent

Kenneth Bae, 2 others get 5 minutes each to talk about conditions
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2014 7:37 AM CDT

The foreign media was caught off guard today after North Korea allowed reporters to speak to three Americans detained there, reports the AP. Kenneth Bae, Matthew Todd Miller, and Jeffrey Edward Fowle were each given five minutes for a TV interview with CNN, which aired their statements about their conditions and health. What emerged during the interviews (which the AP notes were monitored by Korean officials):

  • All three told reporters they had been permitted to contact their loved ones and urged the US to send a rep to help secure their freedom, notes the AP.

  • Bae, who reportedly has medical issues related to diabetes and an enlarged heart, says his health is deteriorating and that he's toiling in a labor camp to serve out his 15-year sentence, doing "hard labor" for eight hours a day, six days a week. Still, the 46-year-old missionary accused by North Korea of scheming to overthrow the government—an offense that could have been punishable by death—says he has been treated "as humanely as possible."
  • Miller, 24—detained for "improper behavior" after he allegedly ripped up his tourist visa and demanded asylum—tells CNN that his "situation is very urgent" because he's heard he's going to trial soon and will go straight to jail. He notes he won't know what his charges are until trial day.
  • Fowle was detained for supposedly leaving a Bible in a North Korean restroom, notes Reuters, but he tells CNN he's got "no complaints" about how he's been treated, adding, "It's been very good so far, and I hope and pray that it continues, while I'm here two more days or two more decades."
Read more about Kenneth Bae and other detained Americans in North Korea. (More North Korea stories.)

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