US officials say Travis King is in American custody after months of detainment in North Korea: report


The North Korean government has released a U.S. serviceman after holding him in detainment since July, according to reports.

The North Korean government stated Wednesday it was planning the return of U.S. Army Pvt. Travis King to U.S. custody following months of imprisonment, according to state-run news agencies. The Associated Press reported later that two Defense Department officials — speaking anonymously — confirmed that King had been turned over to U.S. custody in China.

“The relevant organ of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] decided to expel Travis King, a soldier of the U.S. Army who illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK, under the law of the Republic,” state media outlet Korean Central News Agency wrote, according to translations provided by Yonhap News Agency.

The brief report did not give details about the time, place, or circumstances of King’s apparent release.

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This undated photo shows Travis King, the American soldier who officials say currently is being detained in North Korea. (Facebook)

King has been held by North Korean authorities since July 18, when he reportedly sprinted away from a tour group into the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.

Since his capture, there has been no contact with King, and North Korean officials have been intentionally obtuse in responding to U.S. inquiries.

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South Korean soldiers at border

South Korean soldiers stand guard during a media tour of the Joint Security Area (JSA) in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in the border village of Panmunjom in Paju. (Jeon-Heon-Kyun/AFP via Getty Images)

The incident happened after King finished approximately two months in a South Korean detention facility following a physical altercation with locals, a senior defense official told Fox News on Tuesday. Throughout the time he was held at the facility, he made comments that he did not want to come back to America, according to a U.S. official.   

King was eventually released on July 10 and was sent home Monday to Fort Bliss, where he could have faced additional military discipline and discharge from the service. King has faced at least two other assault-related allegations in South Korea. 

In February, a court fined him $3,950 after being convicted of assaulting an unidentified person and damaging a police vehicle in Seoul last October, according to a transcript of the verdict obtained by The Associated Press. 

Travis King

This family photo shows a portrait of American soldier Travis King displayed at the home of his grandfather Carl Gates in Kenosha, WI. Pvt. King ran into North Korea while on a tour of the Demilitarized Zone one day after he was supposed to travel to a base in the U.S.  (Family Photo via AP)

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North Korea’s state media reported that King confessed to crossing into the North because of “inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army.”

“During the investigation, Travis King confessed that he had decided to come over to the DPRK as he harbored ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army,” KCNA reported. “He also expressed his willingness to seek refuge in the DPRK or a third country, saying that he was disillusioned at the unequal American society.”

King’s mother disputed the reports from North Korea, saying that her son had no motivation to defect to the totalitarian nation.

Fox News Digital contacted the Department of Defense for clarification on King’s return but was told there was no information to provide at this time.



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