The United States urged North Korea on Thursday to immediately release Kenneth Bae, a Korean American detained in the communist nation for nearly two years, after he was reported to have said he feels like he was abandoned by his government.
Bae, who has been detained in the North since November 2012, made the remark in an interview with a pro-North Korea newspaper based in Japan on Thursday. Bae also said he hopes the U.S. government will send a special envoy to get him released.
"We are, of course, very concerned about his health. We have urged the DPRK (North Korea) authorities to grant him special amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds," Marie Harf, deputy State Department spokeswoman, said at a regular briefing.
She also said she takes Bae's statement with skepticism.
"I would just, you know, take with a grain of salt things people say in videos when they're being held by a country like North Korea," Harf said.
Bae was sentenced in May to 15 years of hard labor for unspecified anti-state crimes.
His family issued a statement saying it is "devastating" to hear Kenneth talk about "feeling abandoned by the United States government."
"We implore President Obama and Secretary Kerry for urgent action to secure Kenneth's freedom. With Kenneth's health continuing to deteriorate, we cannot afford to wait any longer.
Please do whatever it takes to bring Kenneth home. It is long past time. This is our desperate plea," it said. (Yonhap)