North Korea again displayed U.S. citizen Matthew Miller in front of foreign media on Thursday, picturing him beginning his six year sentence of hard labor for what state media has called “espionage”.
In a heavily monitored interview with the Associated Press (AP), the only western news agency currently with an in-country presence, Miller described the type of labor he has been expected to do and the conditions of his internment.
“Prison life is eight hours of work per day. Mostly it’s been agriculture, like in the dirt, digging around. Other than that, it’s isolation, no contact with anyone,” Miller said in the interview.
“But I’ve been in good health and no sickness or no hurts (sic),” Miller added.
In the footage, Miller, accompanied by a North Korean guard, appeared in a grey prison jump suit bearing the number 107. North Korean authorities also invited AP to film Miller making a phone call to his family.
Miller was arrested in North Korea in April after allegedly tearing up his tourist visa and requesting asylum in the country, later receiving a six year sentence for hard labor at his trial on September 14.
In a lengthy description of his arrest and sentencing, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that Miller had intentionally sought to be arrested so that he could enter the North Korean prison system and, in turn, collect evidence of human rights abuses within the country.
“He had a foolish idea of spying on prison and human rights situation while experiencing ‘prison life’ after intentionally committing crimes in violation of the law in the DPRK,” the KCNA said last Friday.
Miller is one of three U.S. citizens currently detained in North Korea, alongside Kenneth Bae, who is serving 15 years hard labor for attempting to overthrow the government, and Jeffrey Fowle currently awaiting trial, despite also being arrested in April.
The U.S. Department of State has repeatedly asked North Korea to release its three citizens on humanitarian grounds and has continually said that there is no greater priority that the welfare of its nationals abroad.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also sent a direct message to the detainees during a meeting on the human rights situation in North Korea, held on the sidelines of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly.
“You may be hidden but we can see you, we know you’re there. Your captors can silence your voice and assault your dignity but they cannot deny your basic humanity,” Kerry said at the meeting.
A North Korean foreign ministry request to attend the meeting was rejected.
Featured Image: KCNA
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