August 2, 2014 / 12:51 AM / 3 years ago

U.S. tourists detained in North Korea ask U.S. to help free them -APTV

SEOUL, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Two U.S. tourists being held in North Korea have called on the U.S. government to help secure their release from the isolated country, in an interview with the Associated Press Television Network.

North Korea has said Matthew Miller and Jeffrey Fowle, held since early May, would be put on trial for crimes against the state.

“I am now requesting help from the American government, the citizens of America and the world to release me from this situation,” Miller, 24, from Bakersfield, California, said in the interview, recorded in Pyongyang on Friday.

The video also showed a hand-written letter from Fowle, 56, of Miamisburg, Ohio, that said he was arrested for leaving a bible at a site visited by his tour group in the northern city of Chongjin.

“I feel a great urgency to get back to my family! Please help me come back home!,” the letter said.

Fowle said of the letter: “My aim is to get that message out to as many people who can hear it, to help us come home.”

Both men were talking to someone off camera. Neither made eye contact with the camera.

It was not clear if the interview was given in the presence of North Korean government officials.

A source familiar with Fowle’s arrest confirmed to Reuters that Fowle left the bible at the Chongjin Seamen’s Club - a faded compound originally designed for visiting mariners to the industrial port town in North Korea’s east.

North Korean authorities arrested Miller for ripping up his tourist visa and attempting to claim political asylum, state media said. He was travelling alone, said a statement published on the website of Uri Tours, the travel agency that arranged Miller’s trip to North Korea.

North Korea has three U.S. citizens in custody, including Kenneth Bae, a missionary of Korean descent who was arrested in November 2012 and convicted and sentenced to 15 years hard labour last year.

Bae said he feels abandoned by his government and has appealed again for help in securing his release, a pro-North Korea newspaper reported on Thursday. (Reporting By James Pearson; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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