North Korea has detained Merrill E. Newman, a US citizen and veteran of the Korean War, for committing “hostile acts,” the country’s official state news agency confirmed on Saturday.
Newman, 85, has been held in Pyongyang since October 26, when he was taken off an Air Koryo flight leaving the country. A retiree from Palo Alto, California, Newman was visiting North Korea as a tourist.
The country's official KCNA news agency accused Newman on Saturday of having “masterminded espionage and subversive activities against the DPRK and in this course he was involved in killings of service personnel of the Korean People’s Army and innocent civilians”.
DPRK is short for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. North Korea is technically still at war with the South and the United States since a truce, not a peace treaty, was signed to end the Korean conflict.
“He admitted all his crimes and made an apology for them,” KCNA said.
In a separate dispatch, KCNA carried what it said was a statement of apology by Newman, made after being detained.
“During the Korean War, I have been guilty of a long list of indelible crimes against DPRK government and Korean people as advisor of the Kuwol Unit of the UN Korea 6th Partisan Regiment part of the Intelligence Bureau of the Far East Command,” it said.
The unit appears to refer to one of the special operations units of partisan, or irregular, fighters acting against the North.
North Korea has been holding another US citizen and Christian missionary of Korean decent, arrested last year and sentenced in May to 15 years of hard labor on charges of committing hostile acts against the state.
Watch a report on Newman's case below.