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North Korea acknowledges arresting Merrill Newman

Announcement of Palo Alto man's arrest comes in the form of apology letter from Newman

North Korea said Saturday that it had arrested 85-year-old Palo Alto resident Merrill Newman for "hostile acts" against the country during the Korean War. It was the first time the country publicly acknowledged that Newman had been detained since he was reportedly arrested as he tried to leave the country on Oct. 26.

The statement came in the form of a letter released by the North Korean state-run media organization Korean Central News Agency. The letter, which the agency stated was written by Newman, apologized for his involvement as an adviser for a paramilitary organization that allegedly carried out acts of espionage, sabotage and attacks against the country during the Korean War that resulted in the loss of civilian and military life.

"Although I committed the indelible offensive acts against the Korean people in the period of the Korean War, I have been guilty of big crimes against the DPRK government and Korean People again," the letter stated.

Newman had traveled to the country as a tourist, and the news agency stated that the reason for his visit had been to contact the survivors -- and the family of the survivors -- from the organization he had allegedly advised during the war, more than 60 years ago.

"Shamelessly I had a plan to meet any surviving soldiers and pray for the souls of the dead soldiers in Kuwol Mt. (the organization he allegedly was an adviser for) during the Korean war," the letter stated. "Following the itinerary, I asked my guide to help me look for the surviving soldiers and their families and descendants because it was too hard for me to do myself."

The letter, which was dated Nov. 9, did not state whether Newman would be released.

Under the U.S.-DPRK (North Korean) Interim Consular Agreement, North Korea is supposed to notify the Swedish Embassy within four days of an arrest or detention of a U.S. citizen and will allow consular visits by the Swedish Embassy within two days after a request. The North Korean government routinely delays or denies consular access, however, according to the State Department.

U.S. officials said on Nov. 22 that the Swedish Embassy had not been allowed access to Newman.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm

My heart goes out to Mr. Newman and his family... BUTT... OMG, how could this man even think of going back or into North Korea....How stupid of him.

Very sorry for him, and I would guess that he will never be released. What a HUGE propaganda piece for N.Korea...

And I doubt if our wussie govt with the present "leadership" will do much real good or help.

I'm sad.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 2, 2013 at 4:57 pm

George:

He will be released - shortly I'm sure, and without the help of Dennis Rodman. He is being held in a hotel and according to Swedish sources who visited him - he is being treated well. But of course he is elder and has health issues - so hopefully it is sooner rather than later.

Holding a 85 year old man - irregardless of his past - is only a HUGE propaganda piece in the mind of Kim Jong-un and evidently you.

And of course the US govt is doing as much as possible to secure his release. Any adminstration, Republican or Democrat would do the same.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 2, 2013 at 5:43 pm

@George You are assuming the signed confession is even remotely accurate. For all you know he was in NK in the past, but it was far less of an event than the letter states. If you were being held, possibly for life, you would probably sign anything to get out too, since you can always retract it later at home.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by mike
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 2, 2013 at 6:02 pm

@Ron

From what I read in NYT and Wash Post the "confession" is not too far off the mark. This guy has lead an interesting life. But of course his endeavors were performed over 50 years ago. But NK is evidently still at war


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Bailey Park
on Dec 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I have known Merrill and his family for more than 30 years. Merrill has always been people oriented and has a desire for travel and adventure. Hopefully he will be released soon so he can return to his family and friends.


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