December 02, 2013 09:11
The U.S. has urged North Korea to release 85-year-old American Merrill Newman, who was arrested there in late October.
U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement on Saturday, "Given Mr. Newman's advanced age and health conditions, we urge [North Korea] to release Mr. Newman so he may return home and reunite with his family."
"We remain deeply concerned about the welfare of the U.S. citizens held in custody in [North Korea]," she added. Hayden also urged Pyongyang to free another American, Kenneth Bae, who has been held there for more than a year on unspecified charges of crimes against the regime.
Newman, a Korean War veteran, was taken off the airplane at Pyongyang Airport on Oct. 26 as he was about to fly back to Beijing after a 10-day tour of the North.
The North has denounced Newman as "a war criminal who killed innocent civilians during the Korean War." The official KCNA news agency on Saturday released a video clip showing Newman reading a "written apology reflecting on his activities during the war."
Newman said in the video, "I committed indelible offensive acts against the [North]" during the Korean War.
But the North claimed he was detained for "hostile activities as a tourist," KCNA added. "His hostility against [North] Korea was proven by several pieces of evidence, and he confessed and apologized for all his crimes."
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