U.S. asks North Korea to release U.S. citizens 'out of humanitarian concern'

WASHINGTON Mon Sep 1, 2014 2:19pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government on Monday requested that the North Korean government release three U.S. citizens currently detained there "out of humanitarian concern" and grant one of them special amnesty to seek medical care.

Three U.S. citizens - Kenneth Bae, Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller - asked the American government for help returning home on Monday in rare interviews with CNN set up by the North Korean government. Bae is serving a 15-year sentence, others are awaiting trial.

"There is no greater priority for us than the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad ... We continue to work actively to secure these three U.S. Citizens' release," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

"The Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang acts as our protecting power for issues involving U.S. citizens in North Korea. We are in regular, close coordination with representatives of the Embassy of Sweden."

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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