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Iran Press TV

US citizen held in North Korea for spying: Report

Iran Press TV

Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:3PM

A naturalized US citizen has been arrested by North Korea over espionage charges amid rising tensions in the Korean peninsula.

Kim Dong Chul, who used to live in Fairfax, Virginia, said he is being held by North Korea for spying for South Korea, CNN reported from Pyongyang on Monday.

Chul, 62, asked the South Korean or US government to rescue him, CNN said.

'I'm asking the US or South Korean government to rescue me,' he said during an interview at a hotel in the North Korean capital.

According to Chul, he was arrested in October 2015 for spying on behalf of 'South Korean conservative elements.'

'I was tasked with taking photos of military secrets and 'scandalous' scenes,' he said. Asked whether he worked for the US at any time, Chul stressed that he did not.

Chul's claims were made in the presence of North Korean officials and CNN said it could not determine whether they were made under duress.

The US Embassy in Seoul said it was aware of the report but did not have further comment.

If his detention is confirmed, he would be the only US citizen held prisoner in North Korea, a fact not revealed until Monday.

Americans Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller were released by Pyongyang in November 2014 after spending more than two years in prison.

Hyeon Soo Lim, a South Korean-born Canadian pastor, has also been held by the North since last February. Lim said he spends eight hours a day digging holes at a labor camp CNN said.

Lim, who was 60 at the time of his arrest, was sentenced to hard labor for life in December for plotting to overthrow North Korea's government.

Last week, North Korean officials claimed that they successfully detonated the nation's first hydrogen bomb.

North Korea says it is prepared for more sanctions but will not abandon its nuclear program, with the state news agency stressing that the country has now "proudly joined the advanced ranks of nuclear weapons states."

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