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2 Americans detained in North Korea seek US help

  • In this image taken from video, U.S. citizen Jeffrey Edward Fowle speakd at an undisclosed location in North Korea Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. Two Americans, Fowle and Matthew Todd Miller, charged with “anti-state” crimes in North Korea say in a video that they expect to be tried soon and possibly receive long prison terms, and appeal for help from the U.S. government. They made the comments in the video shot by a local AP Television News crew. The crew was taken to a location to meet the detained Americans after repeated requests to North Korean authorities to see them. (AP Photo/APTN)

    In this image taken from video, U.S. citizen Jeffrey Edward Fowle speakd at an undisclosed location in North Korea Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. Two Americans, Fowle and Matthew Todd Miller, charged with “anti-state” crimes in North Korea say in a video that they expect to be tried soon and possibly receive long prison terms, and appeal for help from the U.S. government. They made the comments in the video shot by a local AP Television News crew. The crew was taken to a location to meet the detained Americans after repeated requests to North Korean authorities to see them. (AP Photo/APTN)

  • In this image taken from video, U.S. citizen Matthew Todd Miller speaks at an undisclosed location in North Korea Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. Two Americans, Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle, charged with “anti-state” crimes in North Korea say in a video that they expect to be tried soon and possibly receive long prison terms, and appeal for help from the U.S. government. They made the comments in the video shot by a local AP Television News crew. The crew was taken to a location to meet the detained Americans after repeated requests to North Korean authorities to see them. (AP Photo/APTN)

    In this image taken from video, U.S. citizen Matthew Todd Miller speaks at an undisclosed location in North Korea Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. Two Americans, Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle, charged with “anti-state” crimes in North Korea say in a video that they expect to be tried soon and possibly receive long prison terms, and appeal for help from the U.S. government. They made the comments in the video shot by a local AP Television News crew. The crew was taken to a location to meet the detained Americans after repeated requests to North Korean authorities to see them. (AP Photo/APTN)

  • In this image taken from video, U.S. citizen Jeffrey Edward Fowle speakd at an undisclosed location in North Korea Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. Two Americans, Fowle and Matthew Todd Miller, charged with “anti-state” crimes in North Korea say in a video that they expect to be tried soon and possibly receive long prison terms, and appeal for help from the U.S. government. They made the comments in the video shot by a local AP Television News crew. The crew was taken to a location to meet the detained Americans after repeated requests to North Korean authorities to see them. (AP Photo/APTN)
  • In this image taken from video, U.S. citizen Matthew Todd Miller speaks at an undisclosed location in North Korea Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. Two Americans, Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle, charged with “anti-state” crimes in North Korea say in a video that they expect to be tried soon and possibly receive long prison terms, and appeal for help from the U.S. government. They made the comments in the video shot by a local AP Television News crew. The crew was taken to a location to meet the detained Americans after repeated requests to North Korean authorities to see them. (AP Photo/APTN)

Two American tourists charged with “anti-state” crimes in North Korea said yesterday they expect to be tried soon and pleaded for help from the U.S. government to secure their release from what they say could be long prison terms.

In their first appearance since being detained more than three months ago, Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle told a local AP Television News crew that they were in good health and were being treated well. They also said they were allowed to take daily walks. The brief meeting was conducted under the condition that the specific location not be disclosed.

Fowle said he fears his situation will get much worse once he goes on trial.

“The horizon for me is pretty dark,” he said. “I don’t know what the worst-case scenario would be, but I need help to extricate myself from this situation. I ask the government for help in that regards.”

It was not clear whether they were speaking on their own initiative, or if their comments were coerced. The TV crew was permitted to ask them questions.

North Korea says the two committed hostile acts which violated their status as tourists. It has announced that authorities are preparing to bring them before a court, but has not yet specified what they did that was considered hostile or illegal, or what kind of punishment they might face. The date of the trial has not been announced.

Ri Tong II, a North Korean diplomat, declined to answer questions about the Americans at a news conference Friday at the United Nations. But when pressed in a follow-up question he said their cases were “legal issues” and they had “violated our law.”

Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. He is suspected of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin, but a spokesman for Fowle’s family said the 56-year-old from Miamisburg, Ohio, was not on a mission for his church.

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