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May 08, 2013

NBA Star Rodman Asks N. Korea to Release Jailed American

by VOA News

Retired U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman, whose unlikely meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made headlines earlier this year, is calling for the release of an American citizen being held by Pyongyang.

Rodman, 51, made the personal appeal to Kim in a Twitter message Tuesday. The message read: "I'm calling on the supreme leader of North Korea or as I call him 'Kim,' to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose."

​​Bae, who entered North Korea in November as a tourist, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being found guilty last week by the country's top court of unspecified crimes against the state.

The White House has called for Bae's immediate release, saying the trial was not transparent and did not involve due process. He is the sixth American to be detained in North Korea since 2009. All have been released before serving their full sentence.

Rodman, the eccentric National Basketball Association hall-of-famer, shrugged off human rights concerns in making his February trip to North Korea, where he became the only prominent American to have met with Kim.

After watching a basketball game and enjoying a private dinner with Kim, Rodman declared the young leader "a friend for life" and later referred to him as a "good guy."

Rodman, who made the trip along with the daredevil U.S. media organization Vice, has said he plans to return to North Korea later this year to "hang out" with Kim.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.