Merrill E. Newman, who was detained for over a month in
North Korea, smiles after reuniting with his wife, Alicia,
(L) upon arrival at San Francisco International Airport.
An elderly US Korean War veteran released from detention
in North Korea says his videotaped "confession" was given under
duress, adding that he believed he may have been held in a
misunderstanding over his interest in the war.
Merrill Newman, 85, said in a written statement he was kept
under guard in a North Korean hotel and that his interrogator
told him he would be sentenced to jail for 15 years if he did
"Anyone who knows me knows that I could not have done the
things they had me 'confess' to," Newman said in the
statement issued two days after he arrived at San Francisco
airport on Saturday following his release from detention.
The Korean War veteran added that during the tourist trip
that led to his detention, he had expressed interest in
visiting some of those "who fought in the war" in the Mount
Kuwol area and that the North Koreans "seem to have
misinterpreted my curiosity as something more sinister."
"It is now clear to me the North Koreans still feel much more
anger about the war than I realized," said Newman, a resident
of Palo Alto, California. "With the benefit of hindsight, I
should have been more sensitive to that."
On Oct. 26, he was pulled off an Air Koryo flight about to
leave the country at the conclusion of his tourist visit.
Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American who worked as a Christian
missionary, remains imprisoned in North Korea after he was
convicted in May of crimes against the state and sentenced to
15 years of hard labour.