Three U.S. citizens detained in North Korea asked Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their release when members of the media were given access to the detainees during the weekend, CNN reported. Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller are detained in a prison in Pyongyang, and are expected to face trial within a month but said they do not know what charges they are facing.
North Korea said Fowle and Miller committed hostile acts violating their status as tourists. Kenneth Bae, who is serving a 15-year term and seen his health deteriorate, was hospitalized after having worked at a labor camp. Bae last week was moved back to the work camp outside of Pyongyang where he said he does farm-related labor.
After the prisoners asked for help from Washington, the U.S. government asked North Korea to release the prisoners out of "humanitarian concern."
"There is no greater priority for us than the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad. ... We continue to work actively to secure these three U.S. citizens' release," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.