North Korea claims that Matthew Todd Miller, the 24-year-old American who was sentenced to six years of hard labor after destroying his visa in an attempt to shed light on the country’s human rights violations, did what he did because he wanted to be a “second Snowden.”
The state news agency reported on Saturday laid the blame for Miller’s detainment and punishment entirely on him, claiming that Matthew “perpetrated the above-said acts in the hope of becoming a world famous guy and the second [Edward] Snowden through intentional hooliganism.” Miller’s attempt to investigate and bring further attention to the country’s human rights violations was done in part because he wanted to secure the release of another detainee, Kenneth Bae, so that both men could act as witnesses to the country’s treatment of prisoners and its citizens.
The KCNA news report stated that Miller, who admitted earlier this month to CNN that he “prepared to violate the law of DPRK” and “deliberately committed” his crime, believed that North Korea’s citizens “have neither freedom nor human rights and if they disobey the government they would be subject to a miserable prison life. It was his calculation that when he kicked up a fuss tearing up his tourist visa while going through formalities for entry as a tourist, he would be arrested by a relevant organ and taken to ‘prison.’ So, he applied for a tour through a travel agency in the US.”
Matthew reportedly went to South Korea to visit his brother four years ago and soon began teaching English in the country. Miller planned his trip to the DPRK (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) last year through a U.S. based company that arranges private tours. Miller’s trip occurred in April, when he was immediately arrested upon his arrival at the airport in Pyongyang.
Matthew Todd Miller is one of three Americans currently being held in the DPRK, along with Bae and Jeffrey Fowle. Bae was detained in 2012 after being accused of attempting to overthrow the government, and Fowle’s arrest occurred in June while he was visiting as a tourist.
The KCNA report claims that Miller, who is from Bakersfield, CA, prepared a note in advance stating his intention to seek asylum in North Korea. In the notebook, Matthew allegedly wrote that he was “seeking refuge after failing in my attempt to collect information about the US Government. I am planning to open to public information like Snowden.”
The U.S. State Department has demanded the release of all three men. The tour company that arranged Matthew’s trip says it is unclear as to why he destroyed his visa.
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