N. Korea releases ‘written apology’ of US war veteran detained for ‘espionage’
Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old Korean War veteran from California
was detained in October. It happened after he arrived in the
country "under the guise of a tourist", North Korean
official KCNA news agency said.
The war veteran tried to meet up with surviving soldiers he had
trained during the Korean War to fight North Korea, according to
the official statement. He also allegedly admitted to killing
civilians and brought an e-book criticizing North Korea.
Newman "masterminded espionage and subversive activities
against the DPRK and in this course he was involved in killings
of service personnel of the Korean People's Army and innocent
civilians," the North's official KCNA news agency said on
Saturday, adding the man "admitted all his crimes and made an
apology for them.”
The agency has also released a video which shows Newman reading
"After I killed so many civilians and [North Korean] soldiers and destroyed strategic objects in the DPRK during the Korean War, I committed indelible offensive acts against the DPRK government and Korean people," Newman said.
It wasn’t clear what would happen to the man. However, his
statement ends, "If I go back to [the] USA, I will tell the
true features of the DPRK and the life the Korean people are
The apology can be regarded as the authorities trying to release
Newman, quickly and without starting legal proceedings, Yoo
Ho-Yeol, a professor of North Korea studies at Korea University
in Seoul told AP.
The White House has called on North Korea to release US citizen Merrill Newman, who has been held in custody since last month, Reuters reported. Newman is an 85-year-old Korean War veteran.
“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,” said spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, Caitlin Hayden. The White House also asked for North Korea to release Kenneth Bae, an American who has been held in the country for more than a year.
According to his family, Newman had been on a 10-day organized
private tour of North Korea. From phone calls and postcards he
sent, the trip was going well and there was no indication of any
kind of problem, the veteran’s son said.
The US State Department repeatedly warned the American citizens
about traveling to North Korea over hostilities existing between
the two countries.
North Korea has detained at least six US citizens since 2009.
Two of them were journalists accused of trespassing and hostile
acts. After they were held for four months, former US president
Bill Clinton traveled to Pyongyang to negotiate their release
with former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
A few others were Americans of Korean origin accused of spreading
Christianity. Korean-American missionary and tour operator
Kenneth Bae was detained for over a year and in 2013 sentenced to
15 years of hard labor.