The White House Saturday called for the release of an 85-year-old US veteran of the Korean War who has been detained for weeks in North Korea, dpa reported.
Merrill Newman was taken off a plane shortly before departure on October 26 from Pyongyang and detained. His relatives said they suspect the arrest was connected with his service in the 1950-53 war.
"Given Mr Newman's advanced age and health conditions, we urge the (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) to release Mr Newman so he may return home and reunite with his family," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.
North Korea's official news agency carried a statement Saturday in which Newman confessed to "indelible crimes" against the reclusive state and asked for forgiveness.
Another US citizen, Kenneth Bae, is serving a 15-year prison sentence after his arrest a year ago in North Korea on accusations of hostile acts against the Communist regime.
"We remain deeply concerned about the welfare of the US citizens held in custody in the DPRK," Hayden said. "Kenneth Bae has been in DPRK custody for over a year, and we continue to urge the DPRK authorities to grant him amnesty and immediate release."