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American Held in North Korea Describes Prison Life

Matthew Miller says he's isolated, works in fields
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2014 5:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – North Korea claims Matthew Miller wanted to be a "second Snowden" and to expose human rights abuses in its penal system—and whatever the truth is, the 24-year-old from Bakersfield, Calif., is getting as close a look at the country's prisons as anybody could wish for. Miller has begun his sentence of six years' hard labor, and photos released by Pyongyang show him with his head shaved in a prison uniform with the number 107, CNN reports. In a closely supervised interview with the AP, Miller said he had been put to work in the fields.

"Prison life is eight hours of work per day. Mostly it's been agriculture, like in the dirt, digging around," he said when asked what conditions were like. "Other than that, it's isolation, no contact with anyone. But I have been in good health, and no sickness or no hurts." No other questions were allowed, but Miller showed letters he had written pleading for help from prominent Americans, including Hillary Clinton, John Boehner, and Michelle Obama. American officials say Pyongyang has rebuffed efforts to send an envoy to seek the release of Miller, jailed missionary Kenneth Bae, and a third American, Jeffrey Fowle. Fowle, 56, was arrested for allegedly leaving a Bible in a hotel room earlier this year and is expected to go on trial soon. (Read more Matthew Miller stories.)

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