North Korea to put US tourists on trial

Americans accused of 'hostile acts', including leaving a Bible in a North Korea hotel room

A North Korean soldier on guard duty
A North Korean soldier on guard duty beside the Yalu River, on the border between North Korea and China
(Image credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Two American tourists detained in North Korea are to be put on trial for "perpetrating hostile acts" while travelling in the secretive country.

Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle are being investigated by officials with the intention of "bringing them to court on the basis of the already confirmed charges," according to the state-run news agency KCNA.

The two men were arrested separately in April 2014. Miller was held after he reportedly "ripped up his visa at immigration and demanded asylum" from the state, the Daily Telegraph says.

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Fowle stands accused of leaving a Bible in a hotel room, the paper reports. North Korea's constitution guarantees freedom of worship, but only for "officially-recognised groups linked to the government".

Foreign missionaries have previously been accused of fomenting unrest in the country. "Another US national, Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary who had been arrested in November 2012, was convicted and sentenced by North Korea's supreme court to 15 years hard labor last year," Reuters reports.

The US maintains no official diplomatic relations with North Korea, but it has sent envoys to secure the freedom of citizens held by the regime. In 2009 Bill Clinton travelled to Pyongyang to negotiate the release of two American journalists captured after slipping over the border from China.

In May the US State Department warned tourists against all travel to North Korea, citing threats of "arbitrary arrest and detention".

North Korea tests new 'guided missiles'

27 June

North Korea has tested a new class of guided missile, threatening "devastating" retaliation against South Korea, according to claims by the country’s state media.

South Korean officials have confirmed that three short-range projectiles were spotted 120 miles off the east coast of the peninsula.

The North Korean army described the weapons as "cutting-edge ultra-precision tactical guided missiles", according to the Daily Telegraph.

US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf described the launch as "problematic", "escalatory" and "threatening", while noting that it was unclear precisely what had been launched.

"North Korea is not known to possess a tactical guided missile," The Guardian reports, "but analysis of a recent propaganda film suggested it may have acquired a variant of a Russian cruise missile, the KH-35."

The South Korean defence ministry said North Korea has been attempting to advance its multiple rocket launch systems in recent years.

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