WASHINGTON – A U.S. Korean War veteran held for over a month in North Korea said Monday that a video “confession” released during his detention was made under duress.
Merrill Newman, 85, who was released last week and is now back home in California, said he was warned he could be jailed for 15 years for spying if he did not cooperate.
Newman, who was on a guided tourist trip to the reclusive state, added that he believes North Korean authorities misunderstood his “curiosity as something more sinister” when he asked about North Korean war veterans.
The U.S. retiree was plucked off a plane on Oct. 26 as he was leaving Pyongyang following a tourist visit. He was eventually freed and arrived back in California on Saturday.
“I was constantly under guard in my hotel, and my interrogator made it clear that if I did not cooperate I could be sentenced to jail for espionage for 15 years,” he said. “Under these circumstances, I read the document with the language they insisted on, because it seemed to be the only way I might get home.”
The video “confession” was written for him by a non-native English speaker, adding that he emphasized the mistakes when he read it out, so that his family and others would know they were not his own words.