The US has urged North Korea to release American citizen Merrill Newman, who is detained in Pyongyang for more than a month.
On Saturday, state media in North Korea said Merrill Newman, 85, had confessed to “indelible crimes” against the state during the 1950-53 Korean War.
It published what it described as a “statement of apology” by Merrill Newman.
The US also called on North Korea to release another American, Kenneth Bae, who is held since November 2012 and sentenced in May to 15 years’ hard labor.
“We remain deeply concerned about the welfare of the US citizens held in custody in the DPRK [North Korea]” said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
“Given Mr. Newman’s advanced age and health conditions, we urge the DPRK to release Mr. Newman so he may return home and reunite with his family,” she went on.
Regarding Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American, Caitlin Hayden said: “We continue to urge the DPRK authorities to grant him amnesty and immediate release.”
Pyongyang accused Kenneth Bae – described as both a tour operator and Christian missionary – of using his tourism business to plot sedition.
The official Korean Central News Agency said on Saturday that Merrill Newman had ordered the deaths of North Korean soldiers and civilians in the Korean War.
Although Merrill Newman did serve during the Korean War, his family says he is the victim of mistaken identity.
Pyongyang’s state media have routinely publicized alleged apologies from previous US detainees, which cannot be independently verified.
Authorities have previously been accused of coercing confessions from detainees.
Some observers say Merrill Newman’s alleged confession could allow North Korea to release him without formal legal proceedings.
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