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U.S. 'defector' to turn himself in


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Japan
U.S. Army
Charles Jenkins

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Charles Robert Jenkins, a one-time U.S. Army sergeant accused of defecting to North Korea 39 years ago, has said he will soon surrender to military authorities to "face the charges that have been filed against me."

Jenkins, 65, who has been recovering from surgery, gave no firm timetable for his surrender.

But in a letter released by the Japanese government, he said, "I hope I will very shortly be healthy enough to leave the hospital."

In the letter Jenkins said he intended to "voluntarily report to Camp Zama ... to begin the process that will bring closure to my pending legal situation."

The U.S. military had no immediate comment.

"We have nothing official to say," Col. Victor Warzinski, spokesman for U.S. Forces Japan, told The Associated Press.

"It's an issue we will continue to monitor."

Jenkins and his two daughters left North Korea in early July and went to Indonesia -- a country that has no extradition treaty with the United States -- and was reunited with his Japanese wife.

The family had been separated for two years. Previously they lived in North Korea.

Some officials hope Jenkins could provide the United States with valuable information on the reclusive communist nation, which Washington accuses of having a nuclear weapons program.

Jenkins' wife, Hitomi Soga, arrived in North Korea in 1978 after she was kidnapped by agents for North Korea.

She was one of at least 15 Japanese citizens grabbed to help train North Korean spies.

But in 2002, she returned to her homeland as part of a program to improve bilateral relations between Japan and North Korea.

Fourteen years ago, while still being held in North Korea, she met and married Jenkins, an American soldier who disappeared from his U.S. Army unit near Korea's De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) in 1965.

After his disappearance, Jenkins appeared in propaganda films and lived in North Korea for nearly four decades.

Afraid he would be arrested and extradited to the United States, Jenkins did not join his wife when she left for Japan two years ago.

During that time, he and his two daughters, Mika and Belinda, waited for Soga's return while Japan, North Korea and the United States debated their fate.

Japan has urged the United States to treat Jenkins with leniency.


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