Americans in N. Korea beg U.S. for help as trials on vague charges draw near
PYONGYANG, North Korea — Two American tourists charged with “anti-state” crimes in North Korea said Friday they expect to be tried soon and pleaded for help from the U.S. government to secure their release from what they say could be long prison terms.
In their first appearance since being detained more than three months ago, Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle told an AP Television crew that they were in good health and were being treated well. They said they were allowed to take daily walks. The brief meeting was conducted under the condition that the specific location not be disclosed.
Fowle said he fears his situation will get much worse once he goes on trial.
“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.”
It was not clear whether their comments were coerced.
North Korea says the two committed hostile acts that violated their status as tourists. It has announced that authorities are preparing to bring them before a court, but has not yet specified what they did that was considered hostile or illegal, or what punishment they might face.
Ri Tong II, a North Korean diplomat, at a news conference at the United Nations said only that they had “violated our law.”
Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. He is suspected of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin, but a spokesman for Fowle's family said the 56-year-old from Miamisburg, Ohio, was not on a mission for his church. Fowle works in a city streets department. He has a wife and three children.
“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.”
Less is known about Miller, or about what specific crime he allegedly committed.
North Korea's state-run media have said the 24-year-old entered the country April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up at the airport and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum.
“I expect soon I will be going to trial for my crime and be sent to prison,” Miller said. “I have been requesting help from the American government, but have received no reply.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Deputies arrest couple, seize 45 bricks of heroin in Penn Hills
- Trade Institute of Pittsburgh helps rebuild lives of ex-convicts a brick at a time
- Tree giveaway kicks off Earth Week in Pittsburgh
- Healthy Ride, Pittsburgh’s bike share program, won’t require helmets
- 2 Georgia men charged in Pittsburgh jury duty scam
- 10,000 more plots for veterans planned at National Cemetery of Alleghenies
- Pittsburgh pair plans rare trip to Iran for American classical musicians
- Mock trial team from Florida university wins national competition in Pittsburgh
- Social media tip-offs missed in melee outside Monroeville Mall, security specialist says
- Marshall-Shadeland man gets prison term for weapons charge
- Security agents discover handgun in man’s carry-on at Pittsburgh International Airport