WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — North Korean officials say they have detained an American after he allegedly confessed to unspecified crimes.
The Associated Press reports that the man has been identified as 44-year-old Kenneth Bae from Washington state.
Bae was detained while visiting North Korea last month, according to Reuters.
“In the process of investigation, evidence proving that he committed a crime against the DPRK was revealed. He admitted his crime,” KCNA, North Korea’s state news agency, said in a statement.
North Korea would not say what sort of evidence it has against Bae.
A South Korean newspaper reported that Bae had a computer hard disk that contained footage of North Korea executing defectors and dissidents at the time of his arrest, according to Reuters.
Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea, tells the AP that this detention may signal that North Korea wants to have talks with the United States.
“North Korea knows sanctions will follow its rocket launch,” Cheong explained. “But in the long run, it needs an excuse to reopen talks after the political atmosphere moves past sanctions.”
Cheong added that he believes Bae will be convicted in the next few months.
In 2009, former President Bill Clinton flew to Pyongyang to negotiate the releases of American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee.
North Korea has detained five Americans since 2009. All were eventually released. This is the first known American to be detained since Kim Jong Un took power.
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