Deported U.S. Vet Says North Korea ‘Confession’ Was Forced

American was pulled off flight to Beijing on Oct. 26

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Merrill Newman walks beside his wife Lee and his son Jeffrey after arriving at San Francisco International Airport on Dec. 7, 2013

Two days after his homecoming on Saturday, the U.S. veteran deported from North Korea after being detained several weeks for alleged crimes committed during the Korean War said his videotaped confession was made under duress, the New York Daily News reports.

Merrill Newman said on Monday that while reading the provided statement — the only way he could avoid 15 years in jail — he purposefully emphasized its poor English grammar and odd phrasing. “I realize that I cannot be forgiven for my offensives but I beg for pardon on my knees by apologizing for my offensives sincerely toward the DPRK government and the Korean people, and I want not punish me,” he was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency.

During the war, former members of his troops said he had led South Korean guerrilla fighters but was never involved in day-to-day operations.

Newman, 85, was pulled off an Air Koryo flight to Beijing on Oct. 26 after a 10-day trip to the reclusive country. He was detained by North Korean authorities until he was released on Dec. 7.

Outside his home on Dec. 9, Newman told the San Jose Mercury News that he was kept in a hotel room, not a prison cell, and was fed with traditional Korean cuisine. When asked about the apology tape, he said: “Obviously, that’s not my English.”

[New York Daily News]