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North Korea Sets Trial Date for American Detainee Matthew Miller

The California native was arrested in April for allegedly ripping up his visa and demanding asylum in North Korea.

by Liz Fields
Sep 7 2014, 2:10pm

Photo of Mathew Miller via Associated Press

North Korea has announced a September 14 trial date for Matthew Miller, one of three American detainees currently being held by the isolated state, in a brief message released Sunday by state media.

Miller, 26, who was arrested in April for allegedly ripping up his visa at immigration upon his arrival and demanding he be granted asylum, according to North Korean state reports at the time.

"The Supreme Court of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) decided to hold on September 14 a court trial on American Matthew Todd Miller, now in custody according to the indictment of a relevant institution," the official Korean Central News Agency said.

No further details of charges faced by Miller were given.

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Last week, the media was granted rare access to the prisoners.

Miller, a California native, along with fellow U.S. captives Jeffrey Fowle, 56, and Kenneth Bae, 46, each made urgent pleas for the American government's help in separate and bizarre staged interviews with CNN.

In his interview, Miller, wearing a grey turtleneck, said he would not learn of his charges until the trial began.

"My situation is very urgent, that very soon I am going to trial, and I would directly be sent to prison," he said as North Korean minders looked on. "I think this interview is my final chance to push the American government into helping me."

Fowle was detained by North Korean authorities in the port town of Chongjin, allegedly for leaving a Bible in the toilet at a sailor's club in May.

Bae was arrested in November 2012 and is currently serving a 15-year sentence of hard labor for allegedly attempting to overthrow the North Korean government.

The US has pledged to do everything in their power to help the detainees, but has no formal diplomatic ties with the heavily armed nation. Sweden has been acting as an intermediary and Swedish representatives last visited the American prisoners in June.

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Shortly after the release of the interview, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki asked the North Korean government to release the three detainees out of "humanitarian concern."

"We also request the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] pardon Kenneth Bae and grant him special amnesty and immediate release so he may reunite with his family and seek medical care. We continue to work actively to secure these three U.S. citizens' release," Psaki said.

Previous appeals from the US for North Korea to release its detainees have fallen on deaf ears.

Even a social media plea from former basketball star Dennis Rodman, who made a "friend for life" in North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un when he visited the country last year, went unanswered.

NORTH KOREA HAS A FRIEND IN DENNIS RODMAN AND VICE. Read more here.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields