North Korea Confirms Arrest of US Citizen

Posted December 21st, 2012 at 4:45 am (UTC-5)
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North Korean state media say a U.S. citizen has been arrested after entering the reclusive communist country as a tourist.

The Korean Central News Agency on Friday identified the man as Bae Jun Ho, saying he confessed to unspecified crimes against the state. Although it provided no other details, it said the crimes were “proven through evidence.

The report said Bae was detained on November 3 as he entered the northeastern port city of Rason, which lies in a special economic zone near the border with Russia and China.

KCNA says officials from the Swedish Embassy met with Bae on Friday. Sweden often acts on the U.S. behalf, since Washington does not have diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.

North Korea has detained several Americans in recent years, mostly journalists or Christians accused of proselytizing.

In 2009, two television journalists were detained after crossing into the North from China. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton later traveled to North Korea to win their release.

The latest arrest was first reported by South Korean media. The reports described the detainee as a 44-year-old Korean-American tour operator.