Tue, Jun 21, 2016 - Page 6 News List

No negotiations until former detainee stops ‘babbling’

Reuters, SEOUL

North Korea will not negotiate with the US over two American citizens it is holding until former detainee Kenneth Bae stops publicly talking about his time in prison, state media said yesterday.

Criticized over its human rights record for years, North Korea has made use of detained Americans in the past to extract high-profile visits from the US, with which it has no formal diplomatic relations.

North Korea arrested Bae, a US missionary, in November 2012 and sentenced him to 15 years hard labor for crimes against the state.

He was released two years later and has written an account of his detention in a memoir.

Since, Bae has spoken about his experiences at several public appearances and given interviews to promote the book.

“As long as Kenneth Bae continues his babbling, we will not proceed with any compromise or negotiations with the United States on the subject of American criminals, and there will certainly not be any such thing as humanitarian action,” North Korea’s KCNA news agency said.

“If Bae continues, US criminals held in our country will be in the pitiful state of never being able to set foot in their homeland once again.”

Pyongyang is holding two US citizens, both of whom it has tried and sentenced to hard labor.

In March, Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia student, was sentenced to 15 years hard labor for trying to steal a propaganda banner bearing the name of former leader Kim Jong-il.

In April, a North Korean court convicted Korean-American missionary Kim Dong Chul of crimes against the state and sentenced him to 10 years hard labor.

Last year, Canadian missionary Hyeon Soo Lim was sentenced to hard labor for life for subversion of the state.

The US and Canada both strongly advise citizens not to travel to North Korea.

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