US confirms another citizen held in DPRK

Updated: 2014-06-07 07:52

(Xinhua/China Daily)

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WASHINGTON - The United States confirmed Friday that another American citizen had been detained in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), bringing the number of Americans held by the Asian country to three.

Jeffrey Edward Fowle, who entered the DPRK as a tourist on April 29, was detained for hostile acts, DPRK's official news agency KCNA reported Friday.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said her country was aware that Fowle had been detained in the DPRK. "This is the third US citizen that has been detained in North Korea," she told reporters at a daily news briefing held in the day.

Two months ago, Pyongyang detained 24-year-old Miller Matthew Todd for "rash behavior" as US President Barack Obama met with President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye in Seoul.

Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary, was arrested in the DPRK in November 2012 and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor last year for anti-state crimes.

The US State Department issued a travel warning last month, advising US citizens against traveling to the DPRK, even by joining a group tour, to avoid the risk of being detained.

Harf said the US remains prepared to send Robert King, its special envoy for human rights issues relating to the DPRK whose past trips had been canceled by the country, to Pyongyang to secure Bae's release.

"That's the only one I can speak about specifically," she added. "But obviously, broadly speaking, it's important for us to get all of our citizens home."

The DPRK periodically accuses the United States of military hostility and conspiracy to overthrow its leadership. The two states have been locked in a tense diplomatic conflict over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.

The latest US citizen to be held was being questioned by DPRK authorities for conduct inappropriate to the purpose of his visit as a tourist, DPRK media reported on Friday.

US confirms another citizen held in DPRK

Earlier on Friday, Japan's Kyodo news agency said the DPRK had detained a US citizen in mid-May.

Kyodo cited unidentified diplomatic sources as saying the US citizen was detained just before he was to leave the DPRK, for having left a Bible in his hotel.

In May, the US State Department issued an advisory urging its nationals not to travel to because of the "risk of arbitrary arrest and detention" even while holding valid visas.

"Foreign visitors to (the DPRK) may be arrested, detained, or expelled for activities that would not be considered criminal outside (the DPRK)," it said.

Veteran released

The DPRK has detained and then released other US citizens in the past year, including Korean War veteran Merrill E. Newman, whom it expelled after holding him for more than a month accusing him of war crimes.

In April, the DPRK said it was holding a US citizen named Matthew Todd Miller who had made "a gross violation of its legal order" after entering the country on a tourist visa.

He tore up his visa and demanded asylum, KCNA said in April.