BANGKOK – A senior U.S. official in charge of American soldiers classified as missing in action said Saturday he hopes to question alleged U.S. Army deserter Charles Jenkins about other Americans in North Korea.
Jerry Jennings, deputy assistant secretary of defense responsible for prisoners of war and missing personnel affairs, said he has received thousands of reports indicating movements of possibly thousands of Americans in North Korea.
Jennings said he only wants to ask Jenkins whether he has seen any other Americans in North Korea.
“If he answers ‘yes,’ I would like to know who they were. But if he says ‘no,’ I would have no other questions for him. He is no interest to me beyond that question,” said Jennings, who was in Bangkok after a two-day consultation in Siem Reap, Cambodia, with the governments of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam on POWs and MIAs.
Some 8,100 U.S. officers were listed as MIA during the 1950-1953 Korean War, according to the U.S. government.
Jennings said the charges Jenkins, 64, faces are severe and might not be pardoned.
“To us, as it has been reported many, many times, this gentleman is a criminal,” Jennings said.
The U.S. charges against Jenkins also include aiding the enemy, encouraging disloyalty and soliciting other service members to desert.
He added that although sympathy in Japan for Jenkins is understandable and almost universal, it is precisely opposite to the general opinion of Americans.
The U.S. military alleges Jenkins deserted to North Korea when he was stationed in South Korea in 1965.
Jenkins, the husband of Hitomi Soga, an abductee repatriated from North Korea, has been hospitalized in Tokyo since arriving in Japan on July 18, but he is said to have no serious medical problems.
Meeting with lawyer
MATSUE. Shimane Pref. (Kyodo) Alleged U.S. Army deserter Charles Jenkins, now in a Tokyo hospital, will meet with a U.S. military lawyer this week, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda.
“I suppose a person who will work as defense is going to meet (with Jenkins) next week,” Hosoda told reporters Saturday.
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