By Anugrah Kumar
The White House has urged North Korea to release Christian missionary Kenneth Bae, who has been imprisoned at a labor camp for over a year, and Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old U.S. veteran of the Korean War who has been held there since October.
“We remain deeply concerned about the welfare of the U.S. citizens held in custody,” Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said, according to The Associated Press.
“Kenneth Bae has been in DPRK custody for over a year, and we continue to urge the DPRK authorities to grant him amnesty and immediate release,” Hayden said.
Bae, a U.S. Christian missionary who was based in China leading tours into North Korea, was arrested in the city of Rajin on Nov. 3, 2012, supposedly for plots he had made against the government. He was later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
Bae, 46, is the longest-serving American detainee in North Korea since the end of the war in 1953, according to activists.
There are at least another 100,000 Christians in North Korea’s harsh prison camps, where prisoners face torture, forced labor and possible execution, according to Christian groups.