Release of three Americans in N Korea a 'top priority'

14:30 | 02.09.2014
Release of three Americans in N Korea a 'top priority'

Release of three Americans in N Korea a 'top priority'

The White House has said securing the release of three American citizens detained in North Korea is a "top priority" and it is doing all it can.

The statement was made in response to a televised appeal by the Americans asking for help from the US government.

Kenneth Bae, 46, has been held in North Korea since 2012 and is currently in a labour camp outside Pyongyang.

Jeffrey Fowle, 56, and Matthew Miller, 24, are charged with violating North Korean law and are awaiting trial.

North Korea has a history of using detainees as bargaining chips.

In the past, Americans held by Pyongyang have been freed after senior US figures, including former President Bill Clinton, travelled to the country to negotiate.

The US has offered several times to send Robert King, its special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, to Pyongyang to discuss the detainees, but these visits have been cancelled by Pyongyang.


The three spoke to CNN and the Associated Press on Monday with North Korea officials present.

Each man was interviewed separately for five minutes in different hotel rooms in the capital Pyongyang.

All asked for a US representative to go to North Korea to make a direct appeal for their release.

"We have seen the reports of interviews with the three American citizens detained in North Korea," White House spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, said in a statement.

"Securing the release of US citizens is a top priority and we have followed these cases closely in the White House. We continue to do all we can to secure their earliest possible release," he said.

In his interview, Mr Bae said he had been hospitalised for health problems which included back pain, a sleep disorder and weight loss.

(BBC News)


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