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US urges NKorea to free detainee as health worsens

August 12, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department is again calling for the immediate release of an American man sentenced to 15 years hard labor in North Korea, saying his health is deteriorating and he has been hospitalized in Pyongyang.

Spokeswoman Marie Harf said Monday the North should grant amnesty to 45-year-old Kenneth Bae, a tour operator and Christian missionary accused of “hostile acts” against the authoritarian state.

Washington has previously called for Bae’s release on humanitarian grounds, to no avail.

Bae’s family says he has been transferred from a labor camp to hospital after losing more than 50 pounds (23 kilograms). His sister says Bae suffers from diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain.

Analysts say Pyongyang uses detained Americans as bargaining chips in its long-running standoff with the U.S. over its nuclear weapons program.

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