by REERA YOO
North Korea has announced that it will hold a trial on Sept. 14 for Matthew Miller, one of three American detainees currently held by the communist state, according to Yonhap.
“The Supreme Court of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) decided to hold on September 14 a court trial on American Matthew Todd Miller, now in custody according to the indictment of a relevant institution,” the state-run news agency KCNA said in a brief dispatch.
Matthew Miller, 24, was arrested in April for allegedly tearing up his tourist visa and seeking asylum upon arrival, according to the North Korean state media reports at the time. No further details of charges against Miller were given.
Last week, CNN was granted a rare opportunity to interview all three detainees, including Kenneth Bae, 56, and Jeffrey Edward Fowle, 46. Each detainee urged Washington to send an envoy to the North to help bring them home.
“I deliberately committed my crime,” Miller told CNN’s Will Ripley at a hotel in Pyongyang. “I have already admitted my guilt and apologized to the government of the DPRK and I have been asking for forgiveness.”
Miller also expressed frustration that “there’s been no movement” from the American government to secure his release and that his repeated pleas for help have gone unanswered.
“My situation is very urgent, that very soon I’m going to trial, and I would directly be sent to prison,” he said, adding that he will not learn of his charges until he goes on trial. “I think this interview is my final chance to push the American government into helping me.”
Bae, a Korean American Christian missionary, was detained in November 2012 and is currently serving a 15-year sentence at a labor camp for allegedly being a part of a Christian plot to overthrow the North Korean regime. In his CNN interview, Bae said his health has “been failing” for the past few months, but claims that he has been treated as “humanely as possible.”
Fowle, an American tourist, was accused of leaving a Bible behind during a tourist trip. Proselytizing is considered a serious crime in North Korea, and Fowle was arrested on May 7 at the airport as he was about to board a flight out of the country. He said in his interview that he expects his trial to start within a month.
After the CNN interviews were released, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki requested the North Korean government to release the three detainees “out of humanitarian concern.” Meanwhile, Sweden continues to negotiate with North Korea on behalf of the U.S., which has no diplomatic ties with the isolated country and no embassy in Pyongyang.