North Korea says it's detained another American

Last Updated Jun 6, 2014 2:55 AM EDT

SEOUL, South Korea -- An American tourist has been detained in North Korea for allegedly committing an unspecified crime, the country's official news agency reported Friday.

The Korean Central News Agency said authorities were investigating the American for allegedly committing acts inconsistent with the purpose of a tourist visit. It did not give details

KCNA said the American went to North Korea on April 29.

A U.S. State Department official said in a statement provided to CBS News that the department "is aware of reports" about the detention but had no information on it yet. The official stressed a previously issued warning that, "The Department of State strongly recommends against all travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea due to the risk of arbitrary detention or arrest."

The person would be the third American currently held in North Korea.

In April, Pyongyang said it had detained a 24-year-old American for improper behavior while he was being processed to enter the country as a tourist. He was identified as Miller Matthew Todd - possibly putting his surname first. It said he entered the country on April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum. The brief report said he chose the North "as a shelter."

North Korea has been holding a Korean-American missionary, Kenneth Bae, since November 2012. Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for what the North says were hostile acts against the state.

In March, North Korea deported an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity in the country after he apologized for anti-state religious acts and requested forgiveness.

Also in the past year, Pyongyang held American Merrill E. Newman, a Korean War veteran, for more than a month, accused him of war crimes, then expelled him, the Reuters news agency notes.

Pyongyang has held several U.S. citizens in recent years as a way to get visits by high-profile figures, including former President Clinton, for propaganda purposes.

"North Korea periodically accuses the United States of military hostility and conspiracy to overthrow its leadership.

The two states have been locked in a tense diplomatic conflict over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs," Reuters adds.

Comments