North Korea Releases Video Of Detained Elderly Veteran From California (Video)
Monday, December 2, 2013
North Korea has released video of Merrill E. Newman, the 85-year-old Korean War veteran from Northern California, that could help explain why the country detailed the elderly man during a visit to the Asian country last month. Newman has been detained in North Korea since Oct. 26.
The San Jose Mercury News reports North Korea considers Newman a prisoner of the Korean War:
Newman had served in a once-top-secret U.S. Army unit nicknamed the "White Tigers'' explains why the North Koreans detained the retired corporate finance executive last month...
Since the North Koreans believe that the war with South Korea and the United States technically never ended because no peace treaty was ever signed, Newman is now essentially a "prisoner of war" in a conflict that took place six decades ago.
The North Korean government recorded a video apology from Newman (you'll find that at the top of this post) in which he confesses to crimes against the Korean people. According to Reuters, Newman says on the video:
"I realize that I cannot be forgiven for my offensives (offenses) but I beg for pardon on my knees by apologizing for my offensives (offenses) sincerely toward the DPRK government and the Korean people and I want not punish me (I wish not to be punished)."
Despite this bizarre, probably forced, contrition from Newman, his family is encouraged that he soon may be released. In a statement, reported by Fox News, the family learned the Swedish ambassador to North Korea was able to visit Newman, and provide him with his medication:
"We were very pleased to hear that the ambassador was allowed to pay this first visit to Merrill. As a result of the visit, we know that Merrill is in good health. ... Merrill reports that he is being well treated and that the food is good."
As Home Post reported last week, Jeffrey Newman told reporters his father was taking a vacation booked through a Beijing-based tour company when he was detained:
"He's always wanted to go to North Korea; it's been a lifelong thing. Like the guys who go back to Normandy, the World War II veterans. These places had profound, powerful impacts on them as young men, and he wanted to see it again."
The White House and State Department have both urged North Korea to release Newman immediately. Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, explained to several news outlets on Saturday:
"Mr. Newman apologized for the misunderstanding that led to his detention. We have no other information regarding the reason for his detention. Given Mr. Newman's advanced age and health conditions, we urge the DPRK to release Mr. Newman so he may return home and reunite with his family.''