An elderly U.S. Korean War veteran released from detention in North Korea said on Monday a videotaped “confession” he made was given under duress and that he believed he may have been held in a misunderstanding over his interest in the war.
Merrill Newman, 85, said in a statement that he was kept under guard in a North Korean hotel during a detention that lasted over a month, and that his interrogator told him he would be sentenced to jail for 15 years if he did not cooperate.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I could not have done the things they had me ‘confess’ to,” Newman said in the statement issued two days after he arrived at San Francisco airport on Saturday following his release.
Newman, who was a U.S. special forces soldier during the 1950-53 Korean War and worked with guerrillas fighting behind the lines against the communists in the north, was pulled off a flight on October 26 as he was about to leave the reclusive East Asian nation at the end of a tourist visit.
The California native was held for crimes North Korea said he committed during the war, when he was a lieutenant with a U.S. Army unit nicknamed the “White Tigers,” serving as an adviser to a group of partisans who fought deep behind enemy lines.
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