January 11, 2013 / 6:16 PM / 7 years ago

Richardson delivered letter for detained American in North Korea

Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (C) speaks to the media during a briefing upon his arrival from North Korea at Beijing Capital International airport, January 10, 2013. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson delivered a letter for an imprisoned American to officials in North Korea during his trip there this week.

Richardson was unable meet with Korean-American Kenneth Bae, a 44-year-old tourist who was detained in North Korea late last year, but he said he was able to give a letter from Bae’s son to authorities.

“I delivered the letter to North Korean officials,” Richardson told Reuters on Friday. “They said they would provide that to him.”

Bae has been charged with unspecified crimes against the state. Richardson said in Beijing on Thursday that he was told judicial proceedings against Bae would start soon.

Richardson made the trip to North Korea along with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who said the purpose of his visit was to discuss a free and open Internet.

The timing of the trip was criticized by the U.S. State Department. It came after North Korea carried out a long-range rocket launch last month, which Washington considers a provocative test of ballistic missile technology.

Richardson, a former New Mexico governor who was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the 1990s, has made numerous trips to North Korea that have included efforts to free detained Americans.

Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Doina Chiacu

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