North Korea says it has arrested American citizen

Story highlights

  • U.S. officials said last week that an American had been detained in North Korea
  • Bae Jun Ho is accused of committing a crime against North Korea, state media says
  • He entered North Korea on November 3 to carry out a tour, it reports
  • The United States and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations

North Korea has arrested a U.S. citizen for committing an unspecified crime against the country, state media reported Friday, 10 days after U.S. officials said an American had been detained by the reclusive nation.

Bae Jun Ho entered North Korea on November 3 to carry out a tour, the country's official Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA, reported.

He was detained and evidence was uncovered proving that he had committed a crime against the country, the news agency said. The American then confessed to the offense, it said, and faces legal action.

A U.S. official told CNN last week that an American citizen named Kenneth Bae had been detained in North Korea for more than a month.

The U.S. official said Bae had made several trips to North Korea previously, and that he was not believed to have been mistreated in detention.

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Neither Washington nor Seoul has yet confirmed that Bae is the same man referred to by North Korean state media.

His detention was first reported by South Korean newspapers, which said that Bae, a tour operator, entered North Korea at the port city of Rajin accompanied by five other tourists. Bae and the group were on a five-day trip to the country, according to South Korea's Yonhap News.

One of the tour members was carrying a computer hard disk "that apparently contained sensitive information," Yonhap News reported, citing a Korean-language paper.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said last week that the United States was aware of the reports of Bae's detention, but that it would not discuss the issue further because of privacy issues.

"We obviously have no higher priority than the welfare of our citizens. As you may know we have no representation in Pyongyang. The Embassy of Sweden acts as our protecting power for issues involving U.S. citizens in North Korea," Nuland said then.

Consular officials from the Swedish Embassy visited Bae on Friday, KCNA said.

The United States and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations.