North Korea Says Detained American Has 'Apologized'

By Eyder Peralta

November 30, 2013

North Korea says a U.S. veteran, who has been detained for more than a month, has apologized for committing "indelible crimes against" the country in the past and during his current trip.

The North Korean government released an edited video of 85-year-old Merrill Newman reading a handwritten apology.

"I realize that I cannot be forgiven for my offensives [offenses] but I beg for pardon on my knees by apologizing for my offensives [offenses] sincerely toward the DPRK government and the Korean people and I want not punish me [I wish not to be punished]," Newman is quoted as saying by Reuters.

As Mark reported last week, Newman is an 85-year-old veteran of the Korean War who traveled to the country with a friend. According to that friend, the day before they were scheduled to depart, Newman met with North Korean officials and talked about his Army service.

The next day, Newman boarded a plane headed back to California, but a military officer boarded the aircraft and escorted him off.

CNN reports:

"In addition to this statement, [the Korean Central News Agency] ran a story alleging Newman came to North Korea with a tourist group in October and afterward 'perpetrated acts of infringing upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK and slandering its socialist system.'

"This story claimed that Newman tried to 'look for spies and terrorists who conducted espionage and subversive activities against the DPRK.' Investigators determined that, as a member of the U.S. military, he 'masterminded espionage and subversive activities ... and, in this course, he was involved in the killings of service personnel of the Korean People's Army and innocent civilians.'

" 'The investigation clearly proved Newman's hostile acts against the DPRK, and they were backed by evidence,' the KCNA story added. 'He admitted all his crimes and made an apology for them.' "

This was the first explanation North Korea has given for detaining Newman.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Newman's detainment is perplexing, because thousands of other Americans have entered North Korea on tourist visas without incident.

The paper speculates that Newman's error may have been speaking to North Korean agents too candidly.

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