US vet held in N. Korea says statement was coerced

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Merrill Newman, center, walks beside his wife Lee, left, and his son Jeffrey after arriving at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Merrill Newman, center, walks beside his wife Lee, left, and his son Jeffrey after arriving at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The 85-year-old U.S. veteran detained for weeks by North Korea says a videotaped confession he made while he was being held was delivered involuntarily and under duress.

Merrill Newman said in a statement issued Monday that he tried to demonstrate that the statement aired on North Korean state media was not his own by emphasizing its awkward phrasing and poor English grammar.

Newman says that the North Koreans treated him well, but his interrogator told him repeatedly that if he did not apologize for alleged crimes during the Korean War and during his visit to the communist nation he would be sentenced to 15 years in jail for espionage.

Newman was detained in late October at the end of a 10-day trip to North Korea. The visit came six decades after he oversaw a group of South Korean wartime guerrillas during the 1950-53 war.

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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