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The three said they did not know they were going to be interviewed until immediately beforehand. All said they believe the only solution to their situation is for a U.S. representative to come to North Korea to make a direct appeal. / Wong Maye-E, AP

North Korea allowed three American prisoners to speak briefly with Western reporters Monday. Kenneth Bae, Matthew Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle described their time in captivity and appealed in interviews with CNN and the Associated Press to have a high-ranking U.S. official negotiate for their release.

Who are the three men being held by North Korean authorities?

? Jeffrey Edward Fowle, 56, arrived in North Korea on April 29. He is accused of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin. Christian proselytizing is considered a crime in North Korea.

Fowle is from Miamisburg, Ohio, and works in a municipal street department. His wife, Tatyana, is from Russia, and they have three children ages 9, 10 and 12.

? Matthew Miller, 24, of Bakersfield, Calif., was detained as he tried to enter the country April 10, according to Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's state news agency. The agency said that Miller had a tourist visa for North Korea and tore it up and said he was seeking asylum.

Miller was traveling on a privately arranged tour with Uri Tours, which describes itself as "the largest provider of North Korea travel in the U.S.'' He is a graduate of Bakersfield High School.

? Kenneth Bae, 46, a Korean-American Christian missionary, has been held since being detained in the North Korean city of Rason, on the border with China, in late 2012. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor on charges of state subversion by trying to establish a proselytizing network inside the country.

Bae was born in South Korea and came to the United States as a teenager. He lived for a time in Snohomish County, Wash., where a sister lives.

According to the website NKNews.org, which tracks developments in the isolated country, Bae had been in China operating a tour company that brought missionaries into North Korea. Bae has acknowledged being a missionary and said he conducted services in the North, according to an audio sermon and note posted on the website of a Korean Presbyterian church in St. Louis, Reuters reported.



Copyright 2014USAToday

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