World & Nation

2 Americans say they’ll face trial soon in North Korea, seek U.S. help

Jeffrey Edward Fowle
In this image taken from video, Jeffrey Fowle speaks with reporters at an undisclosed location in North Korea on Friday. Fowle and Matthew Miller, another American charged with “anti-state” crimes, told the Associated Press that they expect to be tried soon.
(Associated Press)

Two Americans detained in North Korea expect to be tried soon, they told the Associated Press on Friday, and are pleading with the U.S. government to obtain their release.

Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller, who were detained three months ago, told an AP Television crew that they were healthy and were being treated well.

But Fowle, a 56-year-old from Ohio, said he was afraid of what might happen next.

“The horizon for me is pretty dark,” he told the AP crew. “I need help to extricate myself from this situation. I ask the government for help in that regards.”


Fowle told the TV crew that the window for securing his release was closing. “It will be coming relatively soon, maybe within a month.” A trial date has not been set, the AP said.

“I expect soon I will be going to trial for my crime and be sent to prison,” Miller told the TV crew. “I have been requesting help from the American government, but have received no reply.”

Both men were detained in April.

The North Korean government announced in June that they would be tried for “perpetrating hostile acts” after entering the country. The government news agency reporting the news did not specify what the alleged hostile acts were.


North Korean officials detained Miller, 24, saying he’d torn up his tourist visa and sought asylum there.

The Associated Press, citing diplomatic sources, reported that North Korean officials detained Fowle for allegedly leaving a Bible in a nightclub, but his family denied that he was on a religious mission.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing told the Los Angeles Times in June that State Department authorities were in “regular contact” with both men’s families. He also said that Swedish officials in Pyongyang had been allowed consular access to Miller and Fowle.

In May, the U.S. State Department warned tourists against traveling to North Korea.

“Travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea is not routine, and U.S. citizen tourists have been subject to arbitrary arrest and long-term detention,” the advisory said. “Do not assume that joining a group tour or use of a tour guide will prevent your arrest or detention by North Korean authorities.”

North Korea is also holding Korean American Kenneth Bae, a tour guide and missionary who has been imprisoned there for more than a year. He is serving a sentence of 15 years hard labor for “hostile acts.”

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