North Korea arrests American veteran Merrill Newman (VIDEO)


Merrill Newman, a retired Korean War veteran, was on his flight out of North Korea when he was taken off by authorities and detained.



UPDATE: The New York Times has published the full text of Merrill Newman's alleged confession, which was released by the KCNA news agency. The link to this document is here. 

In the full text, the 85-year-old Korean War veteran claims to be "guilty of a long list of indelible crimes against DPRK government and Korean people," and states that his visit to North Korea was "an excuse" "to meet any surviving soldiers and pray for the souls of the dead soldiers in Kuwol Mt. during the Korean war."

The White House on Sunday called for Newman's release: "Given Newman's advanced age and health conditions, we urge the DPRK to release Newman so he may return home and reunite with his family," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.

The White House also called for North Korea to release American citizen Kenneth Bae: "We remain deeply concerned about the welfare of the US citizens held in custody in the DPRK," Hayden added in her statement. 

North Korea had on Saturday arrested Newman for "hostile acts" and accused him of being a criminal involved in the killings of civilians during the Korean War.

The 85-year-old Newman "masterminded espionage and subversive activities against the DPRK and in this course he was involved in killings of service personnel of the Korean People's Army and innocent civilians," according to North Korea's official KCNA news agency.

More from GlobalPost: North Korea confirms it detained elderly American veteran Merrill Newman

The arrest comes after North Korea released a video showing Newman apologizing for his alleged crimes.

The apology was dated Nov. 9 and could not be independently confirmed.

"I have been guilty of a long list of indelible crimes against DPRK government and Korean people," Newman is said to have written in a four-page statement, adding: "Please forgive me."

Newman, who had been visiting North Korea as a tourist, has been held in Pyongyang since officials took him off an Air Koryo plane that was scheduled to leave the country on Oct. 26.

More from GlobalPost: Why did North Korea detain an American veteran?

He is a retired finance executive from Palo Alto, California.

His wife, Lee Newman, has released a statement pleading for her husband's release.

Some have speculated whether Newman was detained for use as a bargaining chip in future negotiations over the hermit country's nuclear weapons program.