State Department Vague on Reports of U.S. Detainee in N. Korea

Dec 12, 2012 11:44am

The State Department Tuesday declined to confirm reports that a U.S. citizen has been detained in North Korea for more than a month.

“We obviously have no higher priority than the welfare of our citizens,” State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. “We have no representation in Pyongyang. The embassy of Sweden acts as our ‘protecting power’ for issues involving U.S. citizens in North Korea.”

A South Korean newspaper has reported that a U.S.  tour operator entered North Korea at the port city of Rajin accompanied by five other tourists. The group was on a five-day trip to the country when they were detained, accused of carrying  a computer hard disk containing “sensitive information,” according to the reports.

A senior State Department official said that without a signed privacy waiver, the United States can’t comment on any case involving a U.S. citizen abroad, but would work through the Swedish “protecting power” in North Korea to gain access to the individual in a case such as this one.

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