U.S. Confirms American Detained in North Korea

Dec 29, 2009 3:09pm

ABC News' Kirit Radia reports: The United States has confirmed that an American citizen has been detained in North Korea, officials tell ABC News. State Dept spokesman Ian Kelly tells ABC News that North Korea “has confirmed it is holding a U.S. Citizen pending an investigation.  We will continue to work through the Swedish Embassy, our Protecting Power in Pyongyang, to seek consular access to this American citizen.” American activist Robert Park snuck into the reclusive country on Christmas day in an attempt to highlight the plight of the North Korean people who suffer from chronic food shortages under a repressive regime. Yesterday, North Korea’s official news agency was quoted by Reuters as saying “On Dec. 24, a U.S. citizen illegally entered the country across the North Korea-China border and has been detained. The person is currently undergoing questioning by a related agency." A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to diplomatic sensitivities, tells ABC News that confirmation of Park’s detention came through both the Swedes and the so-called “New York Channel,” which is a channel of communication through the US and North Korean missions to the United Nations in New York. The US officials say that so far they are unaware of any charges against Park. Park reportedly crossed over the frozen river that marks the border between China and North Korea on Friday. In interviews before he departed Park said he was willing to die in North Korea in order to bring attention to the many North Koreans who are detained in harsh prison camps throughout the country. His detention is the second time this year that Americans have been detained for crossing illegally into North Korea. Earlier this year, two American reporters were detained after they walked on the frozen river. After being charged with espionage they were freed when former President Bill Clinton flew to Pyongyang to retrieve them. — Kirit Radia

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