SEOUL ): Two American citizens facing trial in North Korea called for help from the US government to secure their release from what they feared could be lengthy prison terms, a news report said.
Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle told a local AP Television news crew Friday that they were in good health and were being treated well, being allowed daily walks. North Korea said in June it would put the two on trial on charges including “perpetrating hostile acts”.
The official KCNA news agency said suspicions about “hostile acts” by Miller and Fowle had been confirmed by evidence and their testimony. Fowle, 56, said he feared his situation would get much worse once he went on trial, according to Associated Press. “The horizon for me is pretty dark,” he said. “I don’t know what the worst-case scenario would be, but I need help to extricate myself from this situation. I ask the government for help in that regards.
“The window is closing on that process. It will be coming relatively soon, maybe within a month,” Fowle said of his trial. “I’m anxious to get home, I’m sure all of us are”. North Korea tends to grant press interviews with Americans in captivity as a way to put pressure on the US government to pay attention to the nuclear-armed but isolated state. Fowle, who entered the North on April 29, was arrested after reportedly leaving a Bible at a hotel.
Miller, 24, was arrested in April after he apparently ripped up his visa at immigration and demanded asylum in the communist state. Miller also said he expected to be put on trial soon and sent to prison. “I have been requesting help from the American government, but have received no reply”, he said. The United States has called for their release. “Out of humanitarian concern for Mr Fowle and Mr Miller and their families, we request North Korea release them so they may return home,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters last month.
Swedish diplomats visited Fowle on June 20 and Miller on May 9 and June 21, she added. The United States has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, and the Swedish embassy acts as a go-between for Washington in dealings with Pyongyang. Psaki also renewed requests to free US missionary Kenneth Bae on humanitarian grounds. Described by a North Korean court as a militant Christian evangelist, Bae was arrested in November 2012 and sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour on charges of seeking to topple the government. The State Department has issued a travel warning urging Americans to avoid travel to the reclusive state.