SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Detained American Matthew Miller will be tried next Sunday, North Korean state media said, less than a week after the detainee made a rare foreign media appearance to plead for help.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said in a brief dispatch Sunday that the Supreme Court decided to “judge” Miller on September 14. It did not elaborate on specific charges against him, although past reports have accused him of hostile acts.
Miller, 24, was detained after entering the country April 10, when he tore up his tourist visa at the airport and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum, KCNA has reported.
In a brief interview with The Associated Press in Pyongyang last week, Miller and two other Americans held by North Korea, Jeffrey Fowle and Kenneth Bae, called for Washington to send a high-ranking US representative to make a direct appeal for their freedom.
North Korea has often used detained Americans as bargaining chips with Washington in the past. Senior statesmen including former President Bill Clinton have made trips to Pyongyang to secure the release of detainees.
Bae, a Korean-American missionary accused of plotting to overthrow the Pyongyang regime, has been sentenced to a 15-year term. He said last week that his health has deteriorated at the labour camp where he works eight hours a day.
Fowle arrived in the country on April 29. He is suspected of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin. Christian evangelism is considered a crime in North Korea. Fowle lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, and has a wife and three children.
National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the White House has “closely” followed their cases and that it is doing all it can to win their “earliest possible release.”