Detained Americans in North Korea Seek U.S. Help

(Reuters) -

Three American citizens detained in North Korea appealed to the U.S government on Monday for help returning home, speaking in rare interviews with U.S. media that were set up by the North Korean government and may signal an attempt by Pyongyang to reopen a long-stalled dialogue.

The three men, one serving a 15-year sentence and two awaiting trial in the isolated country, spoke to CNN and the Associated Press in tightly controlled circumstances. One of them said his health was failing and another described his situation as “urgent.”

The men said they were being treated humanely but asked the U.S. government to get more actively involved in helping resolve their situation.

Responding to the interviews, the U.S. government urged Pyongyang to release the men, and said Washington was working to try to secure their return home.

“Out of humanitarian concern for Jeffrey Fowle, Matthew Miller, and their families, we request the DPRK release them so they may return home,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement, using the formal acronym for North Korea, and referring to the two men awaiting trial.

“We also request the DPRK pardon Kenneth Bae and grant him special amnesty and immediate release so he may reunite with his family and seek medical care,” she added.