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U.S. Calls For Humanitarian Release Of American In North Korea

David McAlpine |
April 12, 2011 | 10:45 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

According to the U.S. State Department, an American citizen has been detained in North Korea, and now U.S. officials are calling for their immediate release.

No further details have been given about the identity of the American or why they were in the country to begin with. Secretary of State Clinton was scheduled to visit Seoul later this week, so the request from the United States puts extra weight on her visit to the Korean Peninsula.

MSNBC reported:

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said an official with Sweden's embassy in Pyongyang, which protects U.S. interests in the North Korean capital, had recently visited the detainee but he provided no further information.

"We would call on the government of North Korea to release this citizen on humanitarian grounds and we would ask that they respect and treat this citizen in a manner consistent with international human rights law," Toner told reporters.

The United States and North Korea, which fought on opposite sides of the 1950-53 Korean War, have no diplomatic relations. There is a long history of the North detaining U.S. citizens and releasing them with great reluctance.

Almost one year ago, two American journalists were detained in North Korea after being found at the country’s border with China while they were on assignment for Al Gore’s network. 

Now, officials are saying the American was detained late last year and has been in North Korean captivity since.

From ABC News:

A senior State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the individual had been detained in November, but would not say when the case came to the attention of the U.S. government.

North Korea has taken a number of Americans into custody for allegedly entering North Korea illegally in recent years. Most recently a Boston area man named Aijalon Mahli Gomes was arrested in January 2010 and sentenced to eight years hard labor, but he was retrieved by former president Jimmy Carter during a visit to Pyongyang in August.

Former President Carter is also set to visit North Korea later this month, but there is no sign or promise that he will be bringing this American back with him.



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