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Pyongyang Sets Trial Date for US Detainee

  • VOA News

In image taken from video, U.S. citizen Matthew Todd Miller speaks at an undisclosed location in North Korea, Aug. 1, 2014.

In image taken from video, U.S. citizen Matthew Todd Miller speaks at an undisclosed location in North Korea, Aug. 1, 2014.

North Korea has set September 14 as the trial date for Matthew Miller, one of three Americans detained in the country.

State-run news agency KCNA reported the information on Sunday. The California man was arrested in April after he allegedly tore up his visa on his arrival in Pyongyang and demanded asylum.

Miller and the other two Americans — Kenneth Bae and Jeffrey Fowle — were brought before U.S. journalists recently and called for a high profile U.S. representative to visit North Korea and make a direct appeal for their release.

Bae, who is serving a 15-year sentence, said his health is failing, and Miller described his own situation as "very urgent." Miller said he will not learn what the charges against him are until his hearing. Fowle said he had no complaints about his treatment but that he was becoming desperate. He is still awaiting trial.

The journalists from CNN and the Associated Press, who were on an official visit to North Korea, say they were summoned to conduct the unplanned interviews in Pyongyang. They were given five minutes with each man.

Bae's sister Terri Chung said it is clear from the video interview that her brother is in a lot of physical pain and under great stress. She has appealed to North Korean officials to show mercy and release him.

The Christian missionary was arrested in November 2012 while leading a group of tourists in the northern city of Rason. The following April, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for “hostile acts” against the regime in Pyongyang.

Fowle, who entered North Korea in late April, was detained in May on charges of perpetrating activities that violate North Korean law. Diplomatic sources have said he left a bible in his hotel room.

In previous cases involving Americans in North Korea, they were released after visits by high profile former U.S. officials.

Journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling were freed in 2009 during a special humanitarian visit by former U.S. president Bill Clinton. This year, the United States tried to send a senior diplomatic envoy to secure Bae's release, but Pyongyang canceled the visit.

The U.S. State Department has said it will leave "no stone unturned" in efforts to free the American men. A spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, refused to give any details on what U.S. officials are doing, but said Swedish authorities visited the three men several times between May and August.