BEIJING — North Korea said Monday that it is charging two American detainees with carrying out what it called “hostile acts” while in the country.
In a four-sentence statement, the country’s state-run news agency said investigators had garnered evidence and testimony from the two tourists, Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle, that they were “perpetrating hostile acts after entering” North Korea.
Miller, 24, entered North Korea in April through a private tour company. Two weeks later, on April 25, the North announced his detention and alleged that he had torn up his visa upon arrival and shouted that he was seeking asylum.
Fowle, 56, arrived in April with a group tour. North Korean authorities announced his detention last month but did not provide details.
According to Japan’s Kyodo News, which quoted unidentified diplomatic individuals, Fowle was detained because he had left a Bible in his hotel room.
In addition to Miller and Fowle, North Korea is detaining a third American. Korean American missionary Kenneth Bae has been held since 2012, accused of being a Christian evangelist attempting to topple the government. He has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
In Monday’s statement, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said authorities are “making preparations for bringing [Miller and Fowle] before court on the basis of the already confirmed charges.”
Separately, North Korea demanded Monday that South Korea cancel annual military exercises with the United States this summer to promote reconciliation ahead of the Asian Games, which South Korea is hosting and North Korea has said it will enter, the Associated Press reported. The games are scheduled to be held from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 in the South Korean city of Incheon.
North Korea’s National Defense Commission charged that the U.S.-South Korean military drills, planned for August, are intended as preparation for an attack and called on Seoul to scrap them immediately, the AP reported.
South Korea, meanwhile, accused the North of launching two short-range missiles Sunday into waters off its east coast without designating a no-sail zone, an action that defense officials in Seoul described as provocative.
KCNA said Monday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally guided the missile drills, which the news agency asserted did not affect international navigation or the environment.