SEOUL (Reuters) – One of three Americans held in North Korea on charges of crimes against the state said he was anxiously awaiting his trial and appealed for US government help to secure their freedom, a news report said on Thursday.
Reclusive North Korea, which periodically accuses the United States of military hostility and conspiracy to overthrow its leadership, has held a number of US citizens in the past, using them as tools to extract visits by high-profile figures, including former President Bill Clinton.
Jeffrey Fowle, 56, from Miamisburg, Ohio, was arrested in May for leaving a copy of the Bible in the toilet of a sailor’s club in the northeastern city of Chongjin, where he was travelling as a tourist.
A pro-North Korea daily published in Japan, the Choson Sinbo, said Fowle secretly tried to circulate the Bible during the trip in Chongjin. His family has denied he was on a church mission.
Washington has appealed for the release of the three Americans, two of whom have been convicted and sentenced to hard labour.