North Korea Puts Detainees Before The Media
Three Americans who have been held in North Korea against their will have been allowed to have a brief conversation with the media.
Kenneth Bae, Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller used their talk with AP to call for Washington to send a high-ranking representative to negotiate for their freedom.
Mr Bae, who has been held for two years after receiving a 15-year jail term, said his health has deteriorated after being held at a labour camp where he works eight hours a day.
Mr Fowle and Mr Miller said they do not know what the specific charges against them are.
They expect to face trial within a month, they said, but added that they do not know what sentence they are likely to receive.
North Korean officials oversaw the meeting and were present during the interviews with the press agency who said they did not censor the questions asked.
Even though the interviews were conducted separately, all said they believe the only solution to their situation was for a US representative to come to North Korea to make a direct appeal.
North Korea claims that Mr Fowle and Mr Miller carried out acts which it considers hostile and that violated their status as tourists, but has not provided any further details.
It is thought that Mr Fowle, 56, from Miamisburg, Ohio, is accused of leaving a Bible in a nightclub. Any attempt to convert people to Christianity is considered a crime in North Korea.
Mr Miller, 24, is accused of tearing up his visa at the airport and shouting that he wanted to seek asylum. Mr Miller refused to comment when asked by AP whether he was seeking asylum.
Mr Bae was convicted of crimes against the state after a trial that he said lasted an hour.
The 46-year-old Korean-American missionary said he did not realise he was breaking North Korean laws but refused to go into exactly what he was alleged to have done.
Mr Bae said he has lost 15lbs (6.8kg) and has severe back pain and has developed a sleep disorder after being sent back to a work camp outside of Pyongyang, where he said he does farm-related labour.
He said he had opted not to have a defence attorney at his trial because "at that point there was no sense of me to get a lawyer because the only chance I had was to ask for mercy."
Mr Bae's sister Terri Chung said after news of his interview emerged that she was worried about his health and wellbeing.
In a statement released on Monday she said it's clear her brother is in a lot of pain.
Ms Chung, of Edmonds, Washington, appealed to North Korean officials to show mercy and release her brother.
She claimed he has been in detention for a longer period than any other citizen of the US since the Korean war.
The State Department strongly advises against travel to North Korea, but a small number of US citizens visit each year as tourists.
(c) Sky News 2014