US Urges North Korea to Release American Detainee Merrill Newman

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US Urges North Korea to Release American Detainee Merrill Newman

The White House has urged the release of US citizen Merrill Newman, detained in North Korea for more than a month, reports Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service.

According to a story by BBC News, on Saturday, state media in North Korea said 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 Newman.

The US also called on North Korea to release another American, Kenneth Bae, held since Nov. 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,” the BBC said she continued.

Regarding Bae, a Korean-American, Hayden said, “We continue to urge the DPRK authorities to grant him amnesty and immediate release.”

North Korea accused Bae - described as both a tour operator and Christian missionary - of using his tourism business to plot sedition.

“Mistaken identity”

According to the BBC the official Korean Central News Agency said on Saturday that Newman had ordered the deaths of North Korean soldiers and civilians in the Korean War.

Although Newman did serve during the Korean War, his family says he is the victim of mistaken identity.

North Korea’s state media have routinely publicized alleged apologies from previous US detainees, which cannot be independently verified, the BBC's Lucy Williamson in Seoul reported.

Authorities have previously been accused of coercing confessions from detainees.

The BBC reported that some observers say Newman's alleged confession could allow North Korea to release him without formal legal proceedings.

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TAGS: White House US citizen Merrill Newman North Korea BBC News statement of apology Kenneth Bae Caitlin Hayden

[12/02/2013] Print Version

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